Posted by: talkjack | November 1, 2008

Is DRM killing PC games? (Part 3 – Securom)

Securom is DRM system for PC software which has been around for a long time. In recent years, Securom appears to have become controversial and unpopular with savvy customers. For evidence of this, simply search the internet for Securom complaints and problems and you will find a huge amount of search results about Securom, which has earned the nickname SUCK-U-ROM amongst others.

In the third part of my investigation into the affect that DRM is having on PC gaming, I take a look at Securom. If DRM is really killing PC gaming, then surely it is either:

  1. Killing sales (for example, by deterring paying customers from buying games), or
  2. Killing the pleasure of gaming (for example, by interfering with the ability of paying customers to freely play and enjoy a game that has been paid for).

So, how does Securom DRM affect PC gaming?

  1. If Securom is excellent then surely it will encourage sales by encouraging both honest gaming customers and pirates to buy games. To achieve this laudable aim a DRM system must be trustworthy and pain free for honest customers so as not to deter sales, while simultaneously making pirate copies of games less desirable than a purchased copy.
  2. If Securom is excellent then it must not interfere with the customer’s right to enjoy a product that has been paid for.

I am sad to say that in Talkjack’s experience, Securom falls short of achieving either of these goals.
I have suffered bad personal experience of Securom DRM, which has definitely discouraged me from buying certain PC games; those with particularly harsh DRM implementations via Securom. Securom has also interfered with my ability to play and enjoy games I have paid for. In fact, judging by the vast array of online posts on the subject, Securom seems to be having an adverse affect by encouraging people to download pirate games instead of buying copies. A sad reflection on the state of the PC gaming industry?

Is Securom ‘the new Starforce’?

Going back a few years, Starforce was the DRM system I had suffered from the most. Therefore, like other honest gamers, I began choosing to avoid buying any game which included Starforce DRM. For more information on why Starforce became so off-putting and had a negative impact on my purchases, click here.

Securom has been around for many years. At the time when Starforce was at its most widely used (prior to the controversy, alleged technical problems, boycott and class action lawsuit in the US), Securom was quietly being used on some games. As publishers appeared to move away from Starforce due to lost sales, Securom gained popularity.

I have to say that in its earlier versions, I did not have a problem with Securom. Unlike Starforce, I had no experience of old school Securom causing technical problems on my PC or interfering with my ability to buy, play and enjoy PC games.
Unfortunately, since 2007 I can no longer say the same about Securom. Well, if I did say it, Talkjack would be lying to you! When Securom hit its seventh version, at a technical level it became noticeably intrusive on my PC. On a gaming level, Securom then started using online activations in a way which kill some of the fun of buying and playing PC games. Let me explain why.

Technical issues with Securom

I purchased a new gaming PC. Now you must understand that gaming PC’s are expensive. They start at around the £700 mark and go up anywhere up to the £2500 mark or so. Now, in comparison, PC games are cheap, often retailing at the £20 to £30 mark. Hopefully you can see why Talkjack finds it totally unacceptable for the DRM to interfere with the smooth running of an expensive gaming PC all for the sake of protecting a relatively cheap game.

When I purchased my new gaming PC I decided to specify only one DVD drive. This is because performance is an issue for a gaming PC. Adding a second drive is technically unnecessary when one drive can read and write all common disc formats, and it slows performance because there is more low level communication going on between the drive and the PC. This uses more electricity and slightly slows performance.

After installing games with Securom version 7 I started to notice technical issues with my PC. I believe Securom version seven was installed sneakily and without my knowledge or consent along with Neverwinter Nights 2 and / or its first expansion, which I bought in 2007. Or it may have been installed with The Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion which I installed on the same day. My rewriteable DVD drive would spin for longer and longer whilst trying to read discs, making struggling noises. The drive performance was growing worse as time progressed, it seemed to take longer and longer to access discs.

At first I checked for Starforce, in case some game publisher had deviously installed Starforce without my knowledge. I had already suffered problems with Starforce in previous years. However, my new machine was clean of Starforce drivers, thank heaven.

My new PC was only months old. Despite the guarantee, if I had taken the PC back to the shop I would have been without my PC for up to two weeks and faced something like a £60 charge if they found no hardware fault. This exceeds the cost of a new DVD drive.

After spending a wasted evening looking for a hardware problem and not finding one (voiding my PC guarantee in the process by opening up the case to swap out components) I was getting frustrated. I found my DVD rewriter worked fine in my old machine which did not have Securom version seven installed.
I searched online and found to my surprise that other people were complaining of problems caused by Securom.

I decided to recycle the drive into another non-Securom machine where to this day it still works perfectly. I purchased a new DVD reader, and a DVD writer for my PC. After cleaning out Securom and installing both new drives the problem has never come back.

Looking at some PC game retail boxes on the shelves in 2008 I occasionally see standard warning text on the back to the effect that ‘This game contains copy protection technology which may be incompatible with some brands of DRD RW drives.’ This seems like an admission of guilt to me, a victim of hardware problems which appear to have been caused by DRM.
I imagine that in late 2008 I am seeing this warning on PC game boxes because they are intended to stop the publisher from being sued. However, this warning, printed in tiny, tiny font in a hard to see part of the packaging is next to useless for the potential customer who, whilst standing in a shop, has no way of knowing whether the game’s DRM will cause them technical problems. However, this warning message does at least give proof to customer’s angry claims online that DRM interferes with PCs. Based upon his own experience, Talkjack wonders if the word ‘interferes’ maybe a euphemism for ‘breaks’ on this occasion.

Based upon my own experiences I concluded that Securom was the most likely cause of the technical problem on my PC. In an attempt to fix the problem I ended up purchasing two drives for my PC. This is an unnecessary expense, and also means I have been forced to buy and install a second drive against my wishes in order to avoid DRM problems. I only wanted one drive for performance, but there you go! You will understand that by now I had developed angry feelings towards Securom and mistrust of those games companies who sneakily installed Securom on my PC without my knowledge or explicit permission.

Is Securom a rootkit, virus or malware of any kind?

There has been online debate and accusations of Securom being a rootkit or other form of malware. Securom strenuously deny that their software is either, as you would expect. From my own experience trying to fix my PC, and from online research I found the following:

  •  In my case, Securom installed surreptitiously, without knowledge or consent from the PC owner. (As do computer viruses)
  • Securom appears to change your Windows configuration, by installing secret drivers or services with high level privileges. (So do some viruses and malware)
  • From what I read online, once installed, Securom runs on your PC all the time. (As do many computer viruses). Securom is not only protecting the game you have purchased, but executing even when you are not using the game.
  • Securom does not provide an uninstall option in Windows Add/Remove programs. Instead you have to download a special removal tool to get rid of it. (As is the case with some viruses).
  • Even after uninstalling Securom using the special removal tool, I found it left registry entries and secret files behind inside the Application Data folder in the user profile. These cannot be deleted using conventional methods in Windows.
  • Securom caused my client anti-virus / firewall / intrusion detection software to pop up worrying warning messages. (As do computer viruses and malware. For info, I was trialling the F-Secure Client Security software at the time, which is very good.)
  • Securom had used illegal Windows filenames somehow, which made it impossible for me to move, copy, repair or delete my Windows profile. I kept getting error messages preventing my from deleting a file whose name was made up of funny ASCII style characters such as square signs and other non alphanumeric symbols. (I seem to recall old style computer viruses using a similar technique to avoid detection or removal back in the days of DOS.)
  • Securom makes registry keys which cannot be deleted using conventional methods. Attempting to clean up your own registry on your own computer generates error messages preventing you from doing so. I think Securom has used illegal NULL characters in the registry to achieve this. (Using illegal characters to prevent removal is an old trick used by viruses.)
  • Securom blocks you running your game if it finds you have run the perfectly legal Windows Process Explorer on your PC since booting up. Microsoft released an update to Process Explorer which solves this issue.
  • I read allegations that Securom blocks you from running you game if it detects that you have CD or DVD burning or emulation software on your PC. I read online that Securom is hostile to programs like Daemon Tools which let users save wear and tear on their CD drives by mounting virtual images of drives (which is not the same as using or distributing pirate copies of games, but Securom seems to treat innocent people the same as it treats pirates in this instance.) I also read on the Bethesda’s Fallout 3 forums that Securom now has a problem with widely used disc burning software such as Nero and Roxio. Wikipedia says at the time of writing that Securom 7.36 installs an invasive driver to interfere with normal operation if it detects disc burning software. This worries me because I use an old version of Nero to back up my private data (and not for copying games!) every couple of weeks and I will be angry if Securom treats me like a thief for doing this.
  • Even the official Securom removal tool caused scary warning messages to pop up on my PC and block the uninstallation. I had to disable my anti-virus software in order to uninstall Securom (which is unacceptable, and puts my PC at risk especially when I am online).

So, is Securom a rootkit, a virus or a form of malware? Well, form your own opinion.

Want to know what Talkjack thinks? I think it depends upon your definition of the word ‘rootkit’!

My own opinion is that Securom reminds me of computer viruses if it uses techniques such as installing silently without permission, and running constantly, changing your Windows configuration, hiding itself from detection, granting itself high level access rights to my PC without my permission, scanning every disc I put in my drive, potentially conflicting with hardware or other software, and trying to prevent itself from being removed by the PC owner.

For reasons which I hope have become obvious, I do not like Securom, and I want to avoid installing it on my PC. This is not a snap decision, but a rational judgement based upon the nuisance and expense DRM has caused me. Therefore I try to avoid buying games which use Securom. Judging from other customers comments online, many other people feel the same way. I even found customers rallying together seeking to boycott Securom games in the same way Starforce was boycotted.

How to remove Securom from your PC

I found out the hard way that Securom was a pig to uninstall from my PC. If you are having problems removing Securom from your PC, then the following information might help. This is simply a mix of my own observations and my findings after I was forced to search online for solutions to get rid of this unwanted software.

To uninstall Securom on Windows XP:

  1. First download the latest version of the Securom uninstaller from the official website. The link is at the time of writing NB. Always ensure you have the latest version of the Securom uninstaller. When the Securom software gets updated you need to have the most up to date uninstaller to get rid of it. In other words, every time you buy a new game with Securom included you need to check for a new Securom uninstaller. Tedious or what? Why these people are incapable of putting a proper entry in Windows Add/Remove programs list is beyond me.
  2. Having downloaded the uninstaller, run a virus check. Do not trust the file to be clean.
  3. Expand the zip file into a temporary folder on your machine. (Hope you are not an IT beginner, the uninstaller does not cater for people who do not know how to do this).
  4. Annoyingly, the Securom uninstaller causes all sorts of scary messages to pop up from my antivirus software, which actually blocks the uninstaller from running. So you may have to put your machine at risk by temporarily unloading your antivirus software to proceed. (Beginners should be wary of doing this. Thanks a lot, Securom for being so user unfriendly!)
  5. Annoyingly, Securom do not let you uninstall the program by double clicking on the Uninstaller in Windows. Instead you have to use command prompt. (Beginners, you may need to read up on how to use the CD command in DOS. This Securom uninstaller sure seems unfriendly, don’t it folks! As a beginners tip, if you saved the file in folder C:\JUNK then click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt. When a black and white window containing confusing text appears, type (without the quotes) ”C:” and press enter. Then type “CD C:\JUNK” and press enter again. If you saved the file in a different folder you will need to replace JUNK with the folder name and path you chose.)
  6. Once you have managed to open a command prompt and navigated to the correct folder you need to run the uninstaller. To do this, type (without the quotes) “secuROM_Uninstaller.exe /Uninstall”. If you typed that correctly and nothing goes wrong then you should see a message telling you that it uninstalled successfully.
  7. Reboot your PC.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for every user on your PC, logging in as each person in turn. You must do this for every user, according to the official Securom support page.
  9. Remember to reactivate your antivirus software.

We are not done yet, not by a long shot. Now you need to delete the Securom registry entries that the Securom uninstaller fails to uninstall. 

The bad news is that you cannot simply run regedit and delete the Securom entries in YOUR registry, because Securom have blocked you by using illegal NULL registry characters. If you are a beginner I would not recommend trying to delete the registry keys because it is a risky thing to do.
However, if you want to reclaim control of your own PC and remove Securom from your registry then Talkjack recommends following the instructions here:

These instructions are very well presented and will talk you through downloading and installing a fix to allow you to delete the illegal NULL entries which Securom unhelpfully placed in your registry. The screenshots will take you through the process.

My respect to the ReclaimYourGame website for this public service. 

My frustration to Securom for their unfriendly un-installation routine. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits!

One remaining problem – how to delete the Securom tracking files left in your user profile.

First, I am disgusted at this because it caused me genuine tech support hassle. If you are a knowledgeable Windows user then you may wish to back up your user profile and settings onto a different PC. Or you may wish to delete an old user profile . Or you may be repairing a PC and find yourself unable to clean up the C drive due to Securom generated error messages.

I found out the hard way that Securom makes a folder inside your user profile, and uses illegal characters to prevent you from deleting your own user profile on your own PC. How unfriendly is that? I found what appear to be DRM tracking files left behind on my hard disk after running the Securom uninstaller. By this point I felt that uninstalling Securom was as hard as uninstalling a computer virus. I could not say with a clean conscience that there was no similarity between the two tasks.

After contacting Securom technical support for help, they gave me a way of deleting the folder on my PC.

  1.  You cannot delete the Securom folder from within Windows Explorer, so don’t even try! You can see it but not delete it.
  2. You cannot see the Securom folder in Command Prompt (the DOS-like mode of Windows) so you may think you cannot do anything with the Securom folder. However there is a way…
  3. Open a command prompt window as described above.
  4. Type (without the quotes) “CD %APPDATA%” and press enter
  5. Type “RD SECUROM /S” and press enter. You can then get rid of the invisible Securom folder and its contents.
  6. Close the command prompt window.
  7. If you have more than one user account on your PC then you need to log out, log back in as every user in turn and repeat steps 3, 4 and 5. If you are an administrator you can delete each user’s Securom folder without logging out, if you know what you are doing.

Well done, with luck you have successfully uninstalled Securom from your own PC.

Let’s be honest here, Securom was a pain in the butt for me to uninstall. It is risky for beginners to attempt to uninstall the program, and feels very user hostile. If Securom wrote the rest of their application to be as unfriendly as the uninstaller then I simply do not want their software on my PC. How on earth can I trust them?

The online activation controversy

This has become a huge issue in the PC games industry now. In addition to disk checking functionality, Securom also includes online activation functionality. This online activation can be used to authenticate that a game is genuine, but it can also be used to restrict a paying customer from playing the game they paid for more by enforcing installation limits.

An analogy for this would be if every time you bought a movie DVD and put it into your home DVD player you were prevented from watching the movie until the DVD player made an internet connection and passed on some data to the business. The company can then set a limit to say ‘We know this is not a copied disc, but even so, you have watched it in three DVD players, so we will not let you watch it in another player. Go and buy another DVD if you want to watch this movie on your new DVD player!’ How nasty and draconian is that? It would be hard to imagine that greedy, rich entertainment businesses have never considered this business model.

Certain games companies are actually earning themselves a reputation for hostility towards their paying customers by imposing seemingly draconian DRM schemes on them. Customers are actually being turned away from paying for a game, and if the online forums are to be believed they are actually feeling justified in downloading pirates torrent copies instead.

The inconvenient truth here is that:

  1. Securom DRM is not stopping people from downloading pirate games. It may cause a small delay in a new game being cracked.
  2. Paying customers are feeling that they are suffering all the DRM pain because of piracy, while pirates are having more fun and less hassle. This is harsh and does not deter piracy – quite the opposite in fact.
  3. Unlimited online activation is an annoyance to some customers. It adds an unnecessary technical requirement to a single player game. Customers figure that if they look after their game and their kit then they will always be able to reinstall and replay a game as often as they wish, but they have no control over how long the activation server will be available online.
  4. Some companies try to make online activation palatable by arguing that you do not have to keep the game disc in your drive when playing. This is a disingenuous argument if you bear in mind that the same companies imposed the artificial ‘disk in drive’ requirement in the first place and could just as easily take it away when a game has been on the market for so long that DRM is no longer cost effective in terms of protecting sales. Plus, many serious gamers were quite happy to pay for a game, never share it, and quietly download a ‘no cd’ patch. Whatever the legal ramifications of this, such gamers are not committing piracy and no money is being lost.
  5. Online activation brings associated security risks for customers. With Bioshock I was forced to deactivate my integrated antivirus / firewall software in order to activate the game online. My security suite blocked it activation, because it detected Securom doing something risky to my PC. For those customers still using ASDL broadband modems (as were commonly supplied by ISPS), or those who have not competently configured their broadband routers (or maybe just unblocked a load of ports to allow a multiplayer game to work online) then their computers were put at risk of being compromised by malware in order to activate a game. It should not be necessary to lower your software firewall to activate a game. Considering the difference in value between a single copy of a game and a gaming PC, this is unacceptable. Compensation claims, anyone?
  6. Online activation may make sense for online multiplayer games. It makes much less sense for single player games.
  7. Increasingly, potential game buyers are checking online for DRM info before making a purchase. The amount of shelf space devoted to PC games in major chain stores in the last year has shrunk to the minimum and may well disappear. It would be disingenuous to claim that DRM has had no effect on retail sales.

Limited or restricted activations or installations bring further inconvenient truths:

  1. The current trend of limiting the amount of times a customer can install / activate a game they paid for (note I am avoiding the word ‘own’ as it does not seem to apply here) is alienating long term customers. It remains to be seen whether it makes economic sense or is economic suicide to aggravate your long term customers, harming your business reputation for the sake of a short term profit on games.
  2. The digital restrictions being imposed via DRM software to limit activations are often not apparent at the point of sale. This leaves customers feeling cheated that they paid full price for a game. If I were competing in this industry now I would be advertising my games as being better value for money than games with limited activations. If you cannot decide between two games to spend your money on, would you go for ’the £20 for three activations’ or the £20, install it as much as you like” game?
  3. The games industry has long hated gamers playing old games instead of constantly buying new ones. More old games played equals less money spent on new games. It was for this reason many years ago that computer games magazines in Bully Britain all agreed to stop the practice of distributing old computer games on magazine cover disks. They stated the reason at the time. Customers were disappointed but powerless. Nowadays, the current practice of limited activations effectively kills the second hand PC game market, which will drive up sales of new games. Wonder why the gaming industry never seems to speak up openly about this issue? It is hardly customer friendly now, is it?
  4. The majority of paying customers will put up with DRM until it causes them a problem personally. When that happens, they will withhold their future business. Remember people in 2007 talking about how they had to send in photographic evidence of their proof of purchase in order to get their activation count reset so they could play Bioshock? It is bad for business reputation and hurts future sales when these ridiculous situations are dreamt up by rich businesses. 
  5. There may be legal ramifications for these companies. I read about the class action lawsuit in the US against the imposition of Securom on customers. In the UK, there is a Sale of Goods Act which gives consumers rights when they buy a product. If a game refuses to play because of the DRM, take it back for a refund. If it has been less than a year and you ran out of activations, talk nicely to the shop. It they are unhelpful then get free legal guidance from Citizens Advice Bureau. Don’t forget to give your future business to those shops which treat you the best.
  6. Until games packaging clearly displays the DRM system included, and prints any activation limits as prominently as the price, customers are not able to make an informed decision whilst in the shop. Consumer organisations take note! It is when they cannot play the game they paid for that customers get angry. It seems dishonest to conceal this information from buyers during the sales process.
  7. Customers are wising up to the DRM tricks being used. Why do you think niche game Sins of a Solar Empire held its full price for longer than the more widely appealing Mass Effect, which was sold at half price soon after release and recently in the sale for under a tenner. Why do you think Mass Effect was lower in the charts month after month than Sins of a Solar Empire?

Conclusions about Securom DRM and the general state of gaming

The current restricted online activation rules being enforced by DRM are off-putting for many gamers. The outcries can be found on web forums and even organised campaigns on Amazon.

For myself, as an example I was half interested in Spore, and would probably have made an impulse buy. However, Securom put me off.
When I considered whether to buy space game Mass Effect or space game Sins of a Solar Empire I chose the latter. In all probability I would have bought both games in separate months were it not for the Securom restricted online activations in Mass Effect. I just did not want any DRM hassle, which detracts from the game.

Having wasted too much gaming time dealing with DRM related issues, the name Securom has become as prominent as the name Starforce. If the goal of Securom is to be a customer-friendly, pirate-hostile DRM system then Securom does not measure up well in this regard.  But hey, if Securom are truly concerned about customer happiness then paying for my two new DVD drives would be a nice gesture. Oh, and maybe something for all the gaming time I lost too?

Other people have stated that Securom is driving them to piracy. You can find such frustrated dialogues online. If one of Securom’s goals is to reduce piracy then it may just be having the opposite effect.

For myself, ‘limited activations’ means I do not buy a new game

‘Starforce’ brings back memories of the trouble I had years ago trying to play perfectly legal games with Starforce DRM, so if I see that a game has Starforce protection then I do not buy a new game.

‘Securom’ has come to mean ‘well if it’s just a disk check I suppose I’ll by the new game, but if anything goes wrong on my PC I will never buy another Securom game!’

As time goes by, DRM for PC games seems to be getting harsher and harsher, and is giving the message that money matters more than customer happiness.

Can this really be tenable? PC game DRM should be evolving into something which makes paying customers happier, not less happy!

Can this really be tenable? PC game DRM should be evolving into something which makes paying customers happier, not less happy!

If you want to make PC gaming a happier hobby then be careful which games you purchase. Always check the DRM before you buy.

What would be really helpful now is if gamers could agree on a charter for DRM which all news games were measured against to ensure that customer rights are being upheld. Oddly enough, I drafted a DRM charter myself months ago as a starting point. If you enjoy PC gaming then take a look and support the PC games industry before it shoots itself in the foot.

… Talkjack

See also:

Is DRM killing PC games? (Part one – The DRM Charter)

Is DRM killing PC games? (Part two – Starforce)



(c) Copyright Talkjack 2009



  1. Brilliant post!

    I really think that games should not have such a high DRM, it drives me crazy. You shouldn’t lock a game from going to it’s full, amazing limits.

  2. give links for pc games thanks

    >>>>Talkjack’s response:

    Hi Bigbuddy.

    I’m not quite clear what you mean. What sort of links do you want to see here for games?

    … Talkjack

  3. Nice article, too bad the marketing and business groups at these gaming companies using securom don’t seem to care about the customers.

    Are you aware of any comprehensive lists that detail which games use which DRM’s and to what extent? (disk check, install limit, etc)

    Talkjack’s Response

    Thanks for your kind feedback.

    Given the secrecy from publishers regarding PC games DRM, it would be a public service for consumers if someone were to produce and maintain a comprehensive list as you describe. Given that games are released with different DRM systems in different countries, and that online activation limits sometimes change after launch in a weak response to customer outrage, it would be quite a time consuming job.

    Ironically, gamers who are looking for DRM info before they make a purchase will often be lead by google to sites which are intended to help people make backup copies of their purchases, which is allowed by some country’s laws but often blocked by DRM.Gamecopyworld are an example of this, if you read their explanatory notes.. It takes a while to get your head around things like “Securom_PA” meaning “Securom with Product Activation”, for example.

    There is definitely scope for someone to put together a proper website to act as a central repositiry for consumers to check DRM before they buy a game. I imagine it would generate ample advertising revenue because it would attract a lot of traffic.

    If I hear of such a useful site I will mention it on Talkjack. If anyone else knows of such a site in existence, which is accurate, regularly maintained and covers the US and the EU then please feel free to leave a comment here.

    … Talkjack

  4. Excellent article. I just wrote a little piece myslef on my dissapointment with the use of limited installs and online activation in RA3.

    They really are making games more annoying than enjoyable :/

  5. Fantastic article. Far more well-researched and informative than I could ever write. I am bookmarking it for later reference, although I already refuse to buy games which have SecuROM. One may slip by unnoticed.

  6. Fantastic article, right on what I’ve been starting to think regarding games and drm. So much so I’ve even written an open letter to the gaming industry where I wow never to buy a game with this kind of DRM on it, no matter how much I might want to play it. That’s basically the only way I can think of which ensures I will not be getting “viruses” on my PC, even though it means I’ll be missing out on a lot of good games. But enough is enough, I find it’s time to really vote with my wallet.

    I expect this is just the beginning of a process which will either see them get a grip, or kill off PC gaming for good. The latter would be a pity. if anyone’s interested.

  7. Hi Y’all

    Angry Ex-Gamer’s open letter to the gaming industry is definitely worth a look. We gamers need to stick together or it will be the death of our hobby!

    … Talkjack

  8. I not only boycott Securom games for the pc , but their counterparts on the consoles too . This will not only hurt their pc sales but also every branch the developers reach out too . The Public should not have to allow these “N*ZI” game developers to hold our pc hostage in a prison camp . If any other person was to do this to a pc without informing the owner , we would be jailed for years.

    Talkjack’s Response

    Please excuse my one letter edit to your comment. I do not like using the ‘N’ word, although I do appreciate your prison camp reference.

    Your final sentence is very interesting. I recently read the UK’s Computer Misuse Act 1990, and have been reflecting upon the legality of the unauthorised installations of DRM systems on my own PC by games. A better qualified person than I might be able to give an opinion on whether secret, unauthorised DRM installation is compatible with the Computer Misuse Act. I may write an article on the subject after further research.

    … Talkjack

  9. I found out that one of my games had drm when the starforce driver crashed and everytime i booted up windows it warned me that starforce drive was stopped due to incompatibility issues…

    I really hate having stuff running without my knowledge, windows has enough stuff running without my knowledge, imagine adding more and more stuff from software installs… especially when that software is to restrict and control stuff… i think my anti-virus and firewall are enough for that task…

    Also… DRM makes software more expensive, since licence fees must be paid … who pays it? Us of course ):

    Thanks for such article… is quite a factual view over DRM issues.

  10. Excellent article series. Publishers really need to learn that the way to get customers to pay for their games is to give them a quality product in return – not one that is worth less than the pirated copy. If I feel like the pirated copy would be the better (and safer) choice even if it cost as much as the retail copy, then something is seriously wrong.

    Our university hands out free copies of a mathematics software to enrolled students. This version requires online activation with a license server, so what happens is that most students just download the image and crack from a torrent site. Again: if people prefer the pirated copy even if they could get the legal original for free, something’s wrong.

    Pirate downloaders do not really download a game because of the game. They download it because they can check it out for free. Assuming no download of a game was available, they would just ignore it or move on to the next game they can copy for free. It would in no way get them to pay $50 for something they never wanted to pay a single cent in the first place.

    If I go out to buy a game for a lot of money, and end up feeling cheated because the freeloaders got the better copy, that’s not the way to ensure that I will buy another game later on. I think the publishers will really hit rock bottom when the mainstream audience is going to start noticing – that is, when their expensive game collection starts turning into a worthless pile of shiny coasters because the activation servers have been turned off.

  11. I actually went out and bought SPORE on its shipping date. Installed it on my computer.. played for 3 days. upgraded my OS, and guess what.. reinstalling on the new OS counted as an installation.. so thats 2.. a week later, my new graphics card arrived.. so i installed it.. played for 2 weeks, and my little bro caught a nasty virus off the net.. formatted the system.. since the hardware changed in my computer, it counted as ANOTHER installation.. thats all 3.. within a month I used all 3 DRM installations allowed.. a few months later, i bought a new computer.. guess who was out of a SPORE game? not me.. I Pirated the bitch after already paying for it. i have a working version with the DRM removed, and i since i still have a login name from my original copy, I can manually pull things off of the online sporepedia and slide them in my game.. now.. the funny thing is.. i could have done this by getting the free creature creator and getting a sign in name that way and manually pulled creatures off into a pirated game anyway.. so in reality.. all EA did was punish the paying customer with the DRM bullshItE. After doing this, I told all of my buddies to pirate the game and make a free creature creator signin name and get all the things they wanted from S.P. manually. because in the long run, i had to do it anyway. so why pay for something your going to have to pirate in a month anyway? so in closing.. DO NOT BUY A DRM GAME UNLESS YOU WANT A BIG ELECTRONIC PENIS IN YOUR BUTTOCKS!!. INSTEAD, SAY “AAARRRRRRRR MATEY!!!”

    • The bad treatment you had to suck up does prove an important point: Harsh DRM inconveniences paying customers, whilst not inconviencing the pirate. People playing pirated games are having a better gaming experience because theyir copy has no DRM whatsoever.

      Thats why I support GOG these days – they offer a better product!

      On the positive side, I used to spend a small fortune buying PC games, but now I am saving all that money because the hostile DRM puts me off. The latest DRM fad with PC games seems to be requiring a constant internet connection in order to play an offline single player game. All it takes is a few seconds connectivity and the gamer loses their progress as they are disconnected, and the game refuses to play. Seems a bit rubbish to me!

      • Actually, that last new method you mention has been successful in preventing the pirates from playing the game, from what I hear, as the game code is not even complete – i.e. parts of the game are only downloaded from the net as you play.

        But the funny thing is that this doesn’t change a thing. Did you hear the news about Ubisoft’s DRM servers for these new games having a hard time keeping up with demand (who would’ve seen that coming?) and that many players around the world were not able to start the game? If I just shelled out a lot of money for a game that I can’t play, I don’t give a rat’s ass whether the pirates can’t play it either. I paid for a product and I deserve to be treated with respect.

        Still, there IS a difference to these new “always online” DRMs: Point one. Ubisoft made a point to a whole lot of less-technical players that simply were not informed before about what DRM is and what it means for them. Now they realise that if a game has DRM, they never really buy it, no matter how much they pay. These people will check twice next time before they buy a game (and in most likelikhood steer clear of anything with the Ubisoft logo on it, so congrats). Point two. As obviously the DRM is effective (big deal, it’s practically one step short from the all-streaming gaming service that Onlive proposes), Ubisoft will not be able to blame the low sales on pirates this time. Or at least they will once and for all have killed their own myth of “pirates who can’t download will buy”, which is a ridiculous idea.

        On the other hand, I think Ubisoft know all this, and it is the shareholders that need to smarten up – or whoever else is responsible for this business, like so many others, to be no longer about giving your customer a good product in return for their money, but just short-term investment return. These leeches need to be made disappear, becuase no longer caring about long-term customer satisfaction is the end of it all. And we’ve now reached the point where even the most stubborn “I don’t care as long as I can play” gamers are fed up with it all (mainly, becuase they CAN’T play anymore).

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