Atari Apparently Learns Nothing From EA's Bad Experience With DRM

from the head-in-the-sand dept

Last September, (despite warnings to avoid overly cumbersome DRM), EA discovered just what sort of backlash annoying DRM could have when thousands of reviewers on Amazon slammed the game Spore for its overly limiting DRM from Securom. EA eventually backed down (somewhat), and on newer games seems a lot more sensitive to community concerns about DRM (though, many would argue not sensitive enough). Apparently, some of EA’s competitors, however, haven’t been paying much attention. Reader Tyler Hipwell sends in the news that Atari recently released the game Chronicles of Riddick with similarly awful DRM (requires online activation, limited to three total activations) and a ton of negative reviews are flowing to the Amazon listing. Either Atari didn’t pay attention to EA’s experience with Spore… or it somehow thought that the same thing wouldn’t happen to its game as well. Neither one of those options says anything good about Atari.

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Companies: atari, ea

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Comments on “Atari Apparently Learns Nothing From EA's Bad Experience With DRM”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Just want to throw it out that EA announced that the Sims 3 will only have a CD key to protect it. This is like no DRM at all, almost no one cares about having to enter a CD key once. I am actually looking to buy this game now (I haven’t bought or even looked at EA’s games since they used the style of DRM that they used in Spore).

Anonymous Coward says:


“EA eventually backed down (somewhat), and on newer games seems a lot more sensitive to community concerns about DRM (though, many would argue not sensitive enough).”

If you mean they claim to feel bad about treating thier customer as criminals, well yeah, they do “claim” that. Of course if you mean they on longer actually view thier customer as criminals, well we will see if they ever actually change anything.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:


Atari is going to get kicked for it just like EA did.
And they full well deserve it too.
I am glad us anti-DRM peeps are nicely banded together now to retaliate (to an extent).

For those of you talking about The Sims, I would have to advise against a pre-order. Just because they say they will only use a CD-Key, doesn’t mean they will follow through.
Wait til the game is being released before assuming they will follow through. They are EA after all.

minijedimaster says:

Re: Re: Re:2 DRM

Exactly. Stardock gets it. It’s about making GOOD games, and not only that but software/utilities for windows, all for a reasonable price and very convenient to purchase and use. All of this without some garbage DRM and treating your customers like criminals. Why is this so hard to understand for so many of these companies?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hmmm... I'm curious, though...

this is also true, I’m taking a wait and see approach, but they have my attention by stating they aren’t doing any activations. It is up to them on whether they want my money or not.

I’m interested in Sims 3 but not at the cost of my privacy and security, I have enough games in my “to play” list that I can miss a few companies’ line ups and not care.

Doug says:

Re: Where in the World is Carmen Sandie... err, Will Wright going?

It was announced today that Will Wright is departing from EA.

Looks like he’s going back to his roots and starting a new business called “Stupid Fun Club”.

Anyone with a business named that has to be somewhat deranged.

Hmm… I’m going to prep my resume.

Jfed says:

Re: Where in the World is Carmen Sandie... err, Will Wright going?

Not really. He’s merely stepping into a new playpen funded by EA, and any game IP will be developed by EA.

The timing is interesting, though, coming on the heels of obnoxious DRM and players disappointed with the incompleteness of Spore. Perhaps he can exert more control over his creations this way?

interval says:

Re: Where in the World is Carmen Sandie... err, Will Wright going?

According to C-Net ( he’s not leaving on a bad note, EA will in fact be investing in this new company, as will Wright. It’s being described as a computer game (among other media) think tank or incubator for new ideas. At worst I’d say Wright wants back in the ‘ol cockpit, like it was before EA absorbed Maxis.

Eponymous Coward (profile) says:

Not quite a flash-mob yet.

The, now, 11 one-star reviews are somewhat funny to read, but at least one of the reviewers insists on using the word “Draconian”. Plus, one of the reviewers says that EA is publishing the game.

First off, I think it should be required to get the publisher right if you want to Flamazon a product. Second, I stand by my choice of the word ‘Onerous’ to replace Draconian in the description of DRM, IP law, and a vast number of the popular topics here on techdirt.

Who’s with me?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 1980s, meet 2009: DRM as it applied to Carmen Sandiego

I guess you must have lived in a country that didn’t have photo copiers.

Well, that’s not an issue really. Fodor’s Travel Guides are often 500 to 1000-pages in length and Brøderbund also had a special version that corresponded directly to the gameplay. But yes, I suppose if you could get a hold of a Travel Guide, make a copy, you could probably copy it.

If I recall, gameplay was also time-based. Meaning, if you took too long to look up a fact, you’d loose a turn.

I think most people just bought a legit copy with the scarce resource– the guide. I wonder what the piracy numbers (if available– remember it was published in the 80s) for the Carmen Franchise were. If any numbers exist, I assume they were pretty low.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: 1980s, meet 2009: DRM as it applied to Carmen Sandiego

Actually, that’s a good reason not to bother with the game (or at least a legal version). I never played that particular game, but I assume it revolved around entering words or phrases from the book. It certainly wasn’t hard to get around (example).

A lot of games in the 80s and 90s came with manuals and other devices (such as the pirate wheel for Secret Of Monkey Island) with the intent that the game couldn’t be played without the enclosed documents. The problems with this are many: it’s very annoying to leaf through a book every time you want to play the game (and impossible to fire it up on the road unless you’re prepared beforehand), lost or damaged manuals make the game unplayable, it’s difficult to produce a budget-priced version of the game if you still have to print all the documentation.

Certainly, it’s less intrusive than the DRM we’re dealing with today, but it suffers from the same problems: it’s annoying and only affects people who’ve actually bought the game while pirates find ways around it. To anyone who falls foul of this system, it makes the pirated version more attractive. Bad move.

Overcast says:

Odd that someone brought up Carmen. I was thinking about this the other day– Carmen Sandiego had the best DRM of all: You needed the included Fodor’s Travel Guide to play the game. What a clever anti-piracy measure Brøderbund had.

Dunno.. I bought interplay’s 20 year package a long time ago – all the games had a ‘lookup’ phrase to play them. It was a minor hassle – but now… heck, I got the CD and all, but not the book, so it’s worthless to me, may as well toss it out. Was a bit pricey when I bought it too.

But yeah – it’s at least a ‘sensible’ method – no garbage software that installs itself.

anymouse says:

DRM = client (wake up people)

Not to nitpick since I haven’t tried any Stardock games, but if it’s at all like Steam, then there is DRM in there, it’s just tied into the client that you have to have installed to play the games, not in the games themselves.

IF you can take a game purchased from Stardock, install it on a computer without their ‘impulse’ client and actually play it, THEN there is no DRM, if the client is required (and internet access is probably also required at least during install/verification)to play the game, then the game has DRM.

Lots of companies are trying the ‘use our client and you can play our games’, which is basically DRM that ties the games to that specific client. If you remove the client, then you can no longer play the games. And do you REALLY know everything their ‘client’ is doing? Do they have the right (via their click thru EULA) to change what their client does at any time, with their only ‘notification’ being that they update their EULA. Probably. Do the users have the right to play the games they have purchased without the client installed? Probably Not. Still think this isn’t DRM?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: DRM = client (wake up people)

I can’t speak for sure of other Stardock games, but Galactic Civ 2 doesn’t require any client. I ran the install from the CD once, and I didn’t even need the CD in the drive either. I learned about Stardock from some of the anti-DRM comments here and other places, so even though I knew I could go out and pirate the game, I bought it – and loved it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: DRM = client (wake up people)

I don’t like steam, but I really enjoy Impulse, it functions much differently, namely that it doesn’t require you to install it with games.

I ran Sins of a Solar empire for MONTHS without ever having Impulse installed on my system, in fact I was surprised when I finally got Impulse and found that since I registered my game (a month or two after I bought it and was the first and only time I’ve used the CD key), I already had an impulse account and could DL Sins whenever I want.

I also used a single CD (and later just downloaded it via Impulse) to set up multiple lan parties for Sins without any software or cracks or other such nonsense. They’ve publicly stated that Demigods will be the same way, they don’t do anything at all to hamper LAN play, they have always held that you shouldn’t have to start a client to play a game, and if you read their Gamer’s Bill of Rights* you’d know that

so no, Sins doesn’t have DRM. and yes, Stardock is a good company who know how to treat customers (while still out to make a tidy profit)

* here are the most relevant rights to your points that they say gamers should have:

# Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.

# Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won’t install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their consent.

# Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.

# Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.

# Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

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