Will Spore DRM Become EA's Rootkit Moment?

from the increasing-parallels dept

With the news coming out that some purchasers of the video game Spore have filed a class action lawsuit against EA for its inclusion of SecuROM DRM, it's reaching the point where you have to wonder if this is becoming EA's "rootkit" moment. The parallels are there. Both involved an overly draconian form of DRM that severely limited how a "purchased" product could be used. Both involved hidden files installed on a computer -- and both resulted in massive backlash from consumers, and a very slow response from the company. And, of course, the rootkit resulted in class action lawsuits as well. At some point, perhaps, companies will start to realize that treating your customers as criminals is probably a bad idea.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 9:17am

    To me, at the very least, DRM is intended to keep people honest. (Of course it does not work for that, but that's a different issue.) However, when EA used DRM to enforce limited installs, that use of DRM is to make people buy more copies of the same game. In other words, it's purpose was to get more money out of legitimate customers who already paid, not to stop piracy.

    Sure, EA promises to give out more installs like candy. But a promise and a nickel will get you five cents. I won't buy what is promised because EA can change its promise anytime it wants.

     

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  2.  
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    some old guy, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 9:27am

    Here's hoping

    Here's hoping that EA gets spanked for this. And by that, I mean that people stop buying their crap until they stop being asses. Hopefully, the lawsuits will raise the eyebrows of the average Joe to the point where he realizes that being abused for having actually purchased a game is not actually acceptable. Right now, most game purchasers think its ok, because they have been sliding down that slippery slope for like 15 years.

    Of course, this is EA we're talking about. So the chance of them actually changing is pretty damn slim to nil, so I'll be keeping my expectations rather low.

     

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  3.  
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    Aaron deOliveira (profile), Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:08am

    class action suit

    There's already a class action lawsuit brewing:
    here
    &
    here

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:12am

    unfortunately the class action suit is rotten with frivolous stuff that will weaken it's over all chance of succeeding.

     

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  5.  
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    rhett, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    EA Ignored

    I'm in the boat with a lot of people that were excited for this game. I almost went out and got it opening day, but then reports of the DRM came in. I have BF2142 and absolutely hate that EA loader BS. So, I'm passive aggressively ignoring the game until EA stops acting like some communist country. Has EA done the most to make gaming incredibly lame [NFL franchise rights...]?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    I was a bad techie and didn't do much research into the DRM included in Spore. I bought a digital copy of the game the minute it was released and was playing it before it the brick and mortars even opened their doors.

    I guess I trusted them a little too much. I know you guys are going to slap me for this but I've been a fan of EA games for quite a while, starting with Mail Order Monsters on the C-64. Keep in mind...a fan of the games not their business practices.

    Do I regret buying it? Not really....not yet at least. The game itself has been a lot of fun to play.

    I guess my fate will unfold in the months ahead. All I can do know if let them know how I feel about all of this and if they do end up stickin the screws to me, they'll lose a long time customer.

     

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  7.  
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    PRMan, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    I remember...

    I remember back to the good old days, buying EASports titles for my Sega Genesis. EA was a great company back then. They took care of the marketing and licensing and got out of the developers' way.

    All those good feelings of the past have been replaced by caution. I will be very wary of buying any EA product at this point.

     

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  8.  
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    ChasW, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:30am

    I can only see a lawsuit as silly. The rootkit was hidden, and EA never hid their use of DRM. These are completely different things. DRM might not be smart, it might not be good business in the longrun, and it might piss off customers, but the rootkit hacked your computer, and Spore did not.

     

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  9.  
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    Casey, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Downloads

    When your game is being downloaded DRM free days Before the release, it's pretty obvious the DRM isn't there to stop piracy. This DRM is there to make EA more money. Plain and simple.

    I went to Amazon.com the day before the game came out, ready with credit card in hand, to purchase 2 copies of the game for my wife and I. The first thing you notice on amazon is the thousands of 1 star ratings about the DRM, atleast I know I did. There is no way I'm paying $100+ dollars to buy a game that is going to self destruct. 3 installs, 5 installs, 100 installs, it is my game. It will, eventually, no longer work. I'm perfectly fine with CD keys and 1 account per copy. I was going to buy 2 copies (a cd key for both of us), but I get to install it on any computer I want. I also get to upgrade my computer any time I want.

    So, long story short, I had the DRM free version that night from my favorite private tracker. Yep, I'm a pirate now. EA forced me to become a criminal. I just figured if EA is going to treat me like a criminal, I might as well get the plus side of being a criminal as well.

     

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  10.  
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    BeardedSpock, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    "I can only see a lawsuit as silly. The rootkit was hidden, and EA never hid their use of DRM"

    The other thing is, EA and others have been using similar DRM and SecuROM in particular for years. If you have purchased an EA published PC Game in the last few years, you already have "most" of this DRM and you already have SecuROM. It seems to me, as usual, the general public is a little late to the game.

     

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  11.  
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    Casey, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:36am

    To Chase

    I think the lawsuits should center around the consumer never being made aware, before purchasing, that they were buying a game with DRM. It is no where on the outside of the box, and I would imagine it doesn't appear until the initial account setup. At that point, it is too late to return it to the store.

     

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  12.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:37am

    Re:

    Re #8
    Actually, SecuRom does go through great lengths to hide itself in your computer.
    Have you ever tried to remove it?
    Do you think you really removed it all?
    Thing is a pain. And I am sufficiently tech savvy too.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    interval, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:37am

    Re:

    I just love that argument about keeping honest people honest... what a stupid idea. Its not about honesty at all. Its about the publisher squeezing every red cent it can out of its titles for as long as it can. Its all about making the quick buck NOW, and then walking away to trot out the next bit of crap so they can do it all over again. This has never been about honesty, or trust, or any other lofty idea you can pull out of your head. The sooner you realize that the sooner you'll be enlightened.

    Seriously, am I the only one here who is cynical about EA's true goal in business?

     

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  14.  
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    Monarch, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re:by interval

    Spore's DRM does hack your computer. SecureRom is almost impossible to remove. It's a rootkit similar to Sony's rootkit was.

     

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  15.  
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    tracker1, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    Not a game buyer..

    I haven't purchased a game myself in over 6 years now... After the DRM started in, I just gave up on it. Kind of like I've purchased only a handful of CDs since napster fell. I'm not strong enough to give up on the movies, and TV shows I like yet though. It just sickens me to no end the direction things are moving in. I've been holding out on Bluray though (mainly for the sony debacle eluded to in the article).



    I've had to deal with DRM crap on my son's computer enough as it is. I won't stop him from buying the stuff, but will tell him why he should think twice on it. Getting Crysis to work was a pain, can't imagine what this will do.

     

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  16.  
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    Joe, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    No they won't

    It's a given companies think all their consumers are criminals. No way out of it. it's not about offering value to a customer, only thing they care about is what value a customer offers them.

    I am boycotting Spore, which I was highly anticipating since i first heard about it like 2 years ago.

     

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  17.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:39am

    anti-spore

    I went out on the release day to get something else from Circuit City and I saw it was released. I was half way to the register with it before I remembered the stories about the DRM. Needless to say, I don't have that game.

    Almost hate to say it, but when (if?) it comes out on the 360, I'll probably buy it.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:42am

    When it is simply easier to steal something than to buy something that should be a wake up call that you are doing something wrong.

     

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  19.  
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    Common Sense, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Who cares?

    If you aren't a productive enough person to buy as many copies of something that you want, then you probably should stop playing games/music, and start working harder so you can make more money.

    DRM is just a simple contract agreement, and for your dollars, EA grants you the consideration of playing their game using their rules. If you don't like it, don't initiate the purchase. Trust me, for the few of you who would avoid purchase, there exist magnitudes of those who will purchase it without a single thought of DRM.

    You are wasting your time and energy TALKING about this. If you were serious, you would organize yourselves and actually FIGHT for what your believe.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:00pm

    Hey, question for you guys

    I noticed a securom directory in an obscure folder on my pc... I don't recall installing a game with that DRM, but maybe I did. Is there a utility I can download to strip it back out? I don't care if it breaks any games.

     

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  21.  
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    billybob, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Who cares?

    GFYT.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Freedom, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    DRM Promotes Piracy...

    Bottom line - Don't give the customer what they want and they'll find a better way. I'm sure the # of people that read about the DRM, said that is just BS, went and downloaded it via a tracker/torrent to get the version with greater freedom.

    If I were King at EA:

    - I'd find a Business Model where someone copying the game is a good thing and not a revenue loss issue.

    - I'd fire the guy that told me that DRM would be a good thing.

    - I'd fire the guy that said adding 2 activations would get me out of this mess.

    - I'd apologize to the community and make it right.

    Freedom

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Chez, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Who cares?

    "You are wasting your time and energy TALKING about this. If you were serious, you would organize yourselves and actually FIGHT for what your believe."

    Hes right, its time for violence! VIVA LA REVOLUTION!!

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Chris Becke, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:38pm

    SecuROM

    There is, installed with spore, in the users Application Data folder a SecuROM folder with some .dat files. And a .txt file that explains how to enable a service should a non administrator need to run the software. A service that SPORE didnt apparently install. So, either the service is cloaked by a rootkit, OR its not even there.

    So, where is it? Where is this secret SecuROM module installed in my PCs command and control center?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:23pm

    "When it is simply easier to steal something than to buy something that should be a wake up call that you are doing something wrong."

    Actually, if you go to pirate bay and type "spore", 20 different downloads pop up. You cant tell which one to download. The comments to each of these files are filled with "this won't work" or "it asks for my registration code" and the replies are like "you need to first put this file in that directory and then mount the ISO like normally and then do not do this" etc. Very overwhelming to say the least. I don't think EA has anything to worry about except for the elite 1% who are a) tech savvy enough to know what a torrent is, know which of the 20 is the correct one c) wants to wait for the 2-3 day download and hope that after 3 days it actually works d) knows what an ISO file is and how to mount it (since I think it's too big to burn to a consumer-sized DVD).
    After going to pirate bay I almost ran out and bought the damn game! (I didn't because of the 3-install limit and the rootkit but I'm not the average consumer).

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:57pm

    Re:

    a couple hours of:
    1) Google x
    2) Read about x
    3) Retain and Comprehend Information about x
    and you're good to go.

    "Actually, if you go to pirate bay and type "spore", 20 different downloads pop up. You cant tell which one to download."
    Usually, it's the one with the most leechers.

    ""you need to first put this file in that directory and then mount the ISO like normally and then do not do this""
    Always check the "READ ME" file--it will include the instructions. Those comments are from the clueless who do not know how to RTFM.
    Daemon-Lite works great for image-mounting needs.

    "I don't think EA has anything to worry about except for the elite 1%...tech savvy enough...wants to wait...knows what an ISO file is and how to mount it (since I think it's too big to burn to a consumer-sized DVD)."
    I. Most people have a knowledgeable friend to call upon. (duh!)
    II. It's a 4gb install. It can be fit on one DVD. Besides, it's not exactly difficult to make a multi-part archive.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Stealing? No.

    No one is stealing this game off the shelves at the store. If anything, they are downloading a copy and infringing on the copyright.

    Repeat after me: "Infringing is not stealing."

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Irving, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 2:58pm

    Almost a loyal customer

    I impatiently waited for over a year for Spore's release with every intention of rushing to the store to purchase a copy as soon as it was available. When I read of the inclusion of SecuROM DRM and of EA's hollow promises following that revelation, I had no choice but to either forgo this game or find a cleaned copy of it. Which option I chose is irrelevant; the fact is that this DRM has cost EA a sale in my case, and apparently many thousands of sales in the case of all those who care about the programs they allow onto their systems.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    nasch, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Hey, question for you guys

    I copied this down from another story here, but I haven't tried it and cannot vouch for it.

    Try this to get rid of Securom crap, it's worked for all previous versions but they might have improved it since I last had a securom invested game on my pc:

    1. stop UAService7 service (CTRL+ALT+DEL, find it and kill it)
    2. using e.g. Autoruns (http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/Autoruns.html) remove this service and delete the file windowssystem32UAService7.exe
    3. delete the folder Documents and SettingsApplication DataSecuROM
    4. delete the folder Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataSecuROM; in case of any deletion problems use DelInvFile tool
    (http://www.purgeie.com/delinv.htm).
    5. delete securom registry keys using regedit
    6. key named HKLMSOFTWARESecuROM!CAUTION! NEVER DELETE OR CHANGE ANY KEY* contains embedded nulls and cannot be removed using regedit; use e.g. RegDelNull tool (http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/RegDelNull.html) instead of it.

    RegDelNull is the only tool I've been able to use that actually removes their null entries in the registry.

    Pasted from

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Boycott, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 5:22pm

    Why pay for crap

    I will always download a trial of every game i play. If it's good and i get enjoyment out of it then i will go out and pay for the game to support the company. Companies only respect the bottom line, that's it if you believe other wise then your just fooling yourself. So don't pay for crap.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Salon, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    Bad Actors - EA and Securom

    http://www.r-force.org/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=489

    Make sure you read it all, now. ;)

    Securom is a bad actor and isn't disclosed in any EA packaging or documentation at all except buried somewhere on their official websites - and that's if you even think to look for it. And even then, info on Securom is merely copy/pasted from SonyDADC's sales tool, securom.com.

    It's version 7.3xx that seems to be the most problematic - the same version EA's been using on all PC games since April 2007. Disabled disk drives, error messages preventing startup, OS problems (an update to Securom in recent game patches for Mass Effect PC and C&C Kane's Wrath somehow borked rightclicking on any program icon, causing Windows Explorer to crash:

    http://masseffect.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.html?topic=643458&forum=127

    http://f orums.ea.com/mboards/thread.jspa?threadID=388208&start=0&tstart=0 ).

    This crap should've been investigated a long time ago. Hopefully this lawsuit will get that going.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Phillip Vector, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 6:27pm

    Re: I remember...

    Heck, I remember 7 Cities of Gold and MULE on the Atari 800XL. EA (Used to be ECA) used to rock.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    bob, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 6:28pm

    Spore Looked like Fun

    When it hits the cut out bins I might pick up a copy.
    Then download the cracked version and play that.
    It's come to the point where crackers vie with each other to see how can break DRM (Digital Restrictions Monopoly)the fastest.
    I for one applaud their work.
    I no longer buy games when they first come out, as they have to many problems at launch. Some games just are code optimized, look at Crysis. When the head of a video game company comes out and says the next version will have a better coded rendering engine, that tells me they rushed the current game to market.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Speculator, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 5:05am

    Were I to

    Were I to come up with an awesome game, I would put on the box "DRM free!" in big letters, with smaller writing explaining that the installer was DRMed to only work if a physical CD was in the CD-rom drive.

    And I would not spend money developing DRM for the game, except for some simple setup preventing the CD from playing if it was being run from alchohal 52% (or 104%) or from Damon tools or similar. So: you can copy the cd for backups. You can run it without the CD (But dragging files to a file and sending them to another computer would likely not work unless you do some reg-editing) you can copy the CD and you can share it with freinds and faimly. This way the only people who are inconvienced are people who wish to allow someone that they are not within easy traveling/shipping distance of play the game, and people who don't want to have to write their backups to CD.

    That's not many people, so I think most people would not notice.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    rhett, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    Common Sense?

    So common sense thinks that because millions are doing it we should too? That always works out for the best. Clearly he doesn't understand the issue and is just posting for posting's sake. It really is too bad though that EA has lost most of my business and this will probably be the nail in the coffin to kill it altogether. And yes, millions will probably continue to support EA, but that just means millions don't understand the issues and are just happy being ignorant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Calipip4, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    Demon SecuROM

    Most people have the whole idea of SecuRom and the x amount of activations all wrong.
    It's not just a simple DRM, it installs separately to the game without your knowledge...if you un-install the game...it DOESN'T un-install the SecuRom, which makes it a rootkit (malware), so if you don't know this, you will think it's gone because it hides in "hidden folders" and in your "Registry", not to mention disabling of some AV's ,the damage it does to some PC hardware, and stops you from being able to use legal software that SecuRom has been programmed to black band. EA deserves to be sued over this issue alone.
    The other issue I have with this type of Draconian DRM is that when you can't afford the internet anymore, you can no longer Play a Game you Paid for, and that is wrong...most games aren't played over the Net so why do we have to be connected to it. ( It's to Spy on PC users, that's why it Phones Home with Encrypted Data.)
    There is a lot bigger picture than what we're seeing here right now, this is only a baby step to the end plan. This has nothing to do with piracy, because we know that the pirates will never be stopped and it is proven once again with the amount of torrented copies of Spore downloaded so far in less than a month. Why is EA adamant about continuing to use SecuRom when they know it’s not doing what they say it was intended for and is only effecting the paying customers. I will not buy anything that is put out by EA or Sony anymore, even though I would love to buy Sims2 IKEA, Sims2 Apartment Life, Spore and Red Alert 3, but I just don't trust EA or Sony. All they have done for the last 18 months is lie through their teeth to save their neck and not a bit of concern for their paying customers.
    I'm a member at Reclaim Your Game: http://www.reclaimyourgame.com/ and we’re dedicated to helping other gamers with their issues with SecuRom and get info out to educate to public. We also have a SecuRom Removal Instruction Walkthrough Tutorial on the site for people to use and we’re in the process of updating it.
    So please feel free to visit our site and see for yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Teddy Bär, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 3:36pm

    not buying DRM infected games was vindicated

    My stance of not buying DRM infected games was vindicated last week when I decided to install IL2 Forgotten Battles onto my Vista Ultimate x64 ended in frustration.

    I had thought that IL2 Forgotten Battles had come out before DRM and obviously I am wrong.

    As the DRM is incompatible with Vista Ultimate x64 I cannot play the game that I had legally bought.

    Cheers,

    Teddy Bär

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Paul in Chicago, Oct 13th, 2008 @ 1:35pm

    Sign on to refuse to buy EA games until they unbundle DRM & SecuROM

    Theres a campaign to refuse to buy EA games until they remove DRM and SecuROM from their software.

    It takes just a minute to sign up at http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/ea-games-without-drm-and-secu-rom We are trying to get at as many people as possible to sign up to get EA to notice. Figure each game costs $50, and if 500 people sign on, that would be $25,000 in lost revenue.

    For its loyal customer base, secretly adding DRM and SecuROM in their install is just not the way to treat us. Thanks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    jfmherokiller, Aug 22nd, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    what I did to the spore cd when the drm bsod my computer

    1.I took the cd then i opened the nearest window.
    2. then I took a hammer a turned the CD into a pouder.
    3. finally i put the pouder wrapped in paper into my fire-pit and roasted some marshmallows.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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