DRM-Plus, Or How Eidos Is Treating Anyone With A Jail-Broken iPad Like A Criminal

from the everyone's-a-pirate dept

You know the DRM story already. Game publisher creates game, has everything needed to release it, then slaps on some annoying digital rights mechanism. Often times the DRM is pointless, getting cracked quickly, all while either annoying customers or creating major headaches. When it works perfectly, anyone who pirated the game will either be unable to play it at all (pending a crack), or they’ll be subject to more creative annoyances, my favorite still being Ubisoft’s vuvuzelas. All in all, DRM is futility in motion. But at least it’s usually an honest attempt to punish software pirates.

That’s why we may have to come up with a new term, like DRM-Plus, for what Eidos has done with their latest Deus Ex game. Released for iOS, the game works exactly as described…unless you’ve jail-broken your iPad or iPhone, in which case you can’t fire the guns within the game.

Encountered by Redditor KipEnyan and verified by several user reviews in the app store, jailbroken players starting up the first mobile installment of the Deus Ex series are treated to a few cutscenes and a movement tutorial before running into the message above. It comes up during the game’s shooting tutorial, and while one would assume players could still stealth through the game, I’m not sure they can progress beyond that point without tranquilizing those guards.

Mind you, this isn’t pirates running into this issue. While I am sure there are some shady players attempting to get The Fall to run on their jailbroken iPads and iPhones, there are plenty of honest folks who dropped $6.99 on the game, only to have it treat them like pirates.

Worse yet, customers (customers!) have been indicating that there is absolutely zero warning that the game won’t function within the listing in the app store. In other words, people plunked down their money for the game, intending to play it on their iDevice, which is perfectly legally jail-broken, only to find out that Eidos has capriciously decided that their devices indicate they’re pirates.

Very, very few publishers do this. Why? Because it is probably the best indication that a company has attained peak levels of dick-ish-ness this side of owning a Hummer H2. Sorry, Eidos, but not only is jail-breaking an iPad legal, it’s a growing trend. To go out of your way to piss these people off is an incredibly efficient way to mount enough ill will to torpedo what sounds like an otherwise amazing game.

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Companies: eidos

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Comments on “DRM-Plus, Or How Eidos Is Treating Anyone With A Jail-Broken iPad Like A Criminal”

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67 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

so why not try one or both of these choices? dont buy it (getting money back if already bought because as far as a user is concerned, the game is broken, not functioning correctly) and/or suing Eidos for taking money under false pretences, or suing for deformation of character, something similar that will bring what is happening out to the general public, making Eidos look exactly as they are, complete twats!

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is something either in the law or otherwise understood & enforced by the Legal System called an Implied Warranty, in this case, specifically a Warranty of Merchantability (translated out of Legalese: “it is fit to be sold”/ the maker promises it works).

Basically, for this case, if you buy something new, it is supposed to work in a certain way. For shooting games, you should be able to shoot. This game does not work as it should on certain devices.

Some States or Local Governments make it non-enforceable, if not illegal, to disclaim the understanding that it will work as it is supposed to. This is why most, if not all, disclaimers/ warranties that try to limit your rights state that you may have more rights or that some of the restrictions may not apply depending on where you live.

By this reasoning, all DRM that renders software to not behave as it is expected to is illegal in those places that make disclaiming the implied warranty non-enforceable. Especially since DRM is an intention crippling of the product.

Wally (profile) says:

It could be worse...

Admittedly it could be much much worse. One of the many reasons the Apple Lisa was a commercial failure is that once you inserted a floppy disk into the drive…that disk was tied to that specific computer…even for backups.

Timothy Geiger, I know of one other game that had DRM similar to this one from Eiods….Knights of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords DRM prevented the game from loading old games from the main menu if the Disc was under spun by the DVD-ROM Drive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It could be worse...

“once you inserted a floppy disk into the drive…that disk was tied to that specific computer…even for backups.”

Are you sure? I know the Lisa (depending on the model) used unusual proprietary floppy media, but Ive never heard of disks actually being locked to a specific computer.

cpt kangarooski says:

Re: Re: It could be worse...

No, he’s right. In addition to using a bizarre and lousy floppy disk design — the Twiggy — it also had an anti piracy measure. All the Lisas had a unique hardware serial number which it would write to install disks to prevent software from being installed on multiple machines.

Luckily even though the Twiggy was originally going to be used on the Mac as well (there are photos of a prototype equipped with one floating around somewhere), they eventually went with the far superior Sony 3.5 400kB disks instead and seem to have lost this ‘feature’ along the way.

Apple has an ancient document describing this: http://support.apple.com/kb/TA31513

There is a way to remove the serial after it’s been written to disk as I recall, but not having ever used a Lisa, I don’t recall the particular way to do it. Later models of Lisa moved to Sony 3.5″ disks; I don’t remember if this was maintained. My guess is probably yes if you used the Lisa OS, probably no if you used the Mac OS (which was ported to the Lisa eventually).

PaulT (profile) says:

“Very, very few publishers do this. Why?”

Because most companies aren’t stupid enough to cripple a legitimately purchased product? I don’t agree with developers intentionally crippling a game when it detects that it’s been pirated, but I can see the reasoning.

Crippling a game that’s legally purchased just because you don’t like the platform the user has decided to run it on? Utter insanity. Not only do you piss customers off, you give them a choice – stop jailbreaking your device (which may affect a huge number of other legitimate apps and uses) or pirate the game. Guess how many people will think twice about pirating a copy of a game they’ve already paid for just so they can use it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually, it wouldn’t necessarily be piracy, depending on whether or not the EULA specifically states where the copy must be from for the license to apply. If it does not say that, then the license applies to pirated copies as well, meaning that you can torrent the licensed software after paying for it without it being infringement.

Zac Morris (profile) says:

H2

Really? “has attained peak levels of dick-ish-ness this side of owning an H2 Hummer”

So you know the life of every H2 Hummer owner?

I’m a staunch supporter of EFF, ACLU, etc. Like Techdirt, I believe that DRM does nothing but harm paying customers while giving Company Execs a false sense of security.

I own an H2 Hummer, that I use primarily for towing and transporting a group of people when we travel. I have added several efficiency mods, including a solar array, electronics “chip”, etc. It is 10yrs old and still in excellent working condition. It is actually one of the few modern vehicles that is easy to repair because there is enough engine space to get at components without having to remove the entire engine! When the engine declines in repairability then I plan to convert it to a diesel engine, and look into various biodiesel solutions. I plan to own this vehicle, easily, another 10-20 years!

Add to all of this that I work from home (no commute), have no children, and use a 60mpg motorcycle for “local travel”. So even with said H2 my carbon footprint is still less than the average American.

You do nothing but show you own ignorances and reduce the effectiveness of what you’re trying to communicate, when you add such blatant “comparisons” to what you believe are “universal” bad guys.

Transmitte (profile) says:

Jailbreak away..preferably far away from me

My question? Why bother with a device that you have to do this to in the first place? I know it’s somewhat off topic, however, I’ve never understood why people want to own something they have to go to all this trouble to use how they want when there are so many other choices that are just as good if not better than apple and it’s “i” devices.

Yes it sucks that the developers are pulling this and should take a bowling ball to the face for it’s arrogance, but, I’ll stay with android simply because I can do what i want with it and not have some company telling me what I can and cannot do with something I own(or for that matter, dealing with some shit heel of a company pulling garbage like eidos has).

Eo Nomine says:

While I appreciate that this site will reflexively get outraged at anything intended to, this comment is simply incorrect:

“In other words, people plunked down their money for the game, intending to play it on their iDevice, which is perfectly legally jail-broken, only to find out that Eidos has capriciously decided that their devices indicate they’re pirates.”

Sorry, but the current exception for “jailbreaking” under the DMCA only applies to hand-sets and not to tablets, so jailbreaking a tablet actually is not necessarily legal (unless another exception applies). I would have hoped that a site that constantly rages against the DMCA might actually understand the basics of how it works…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

When the Library of Congress creates an explicit exception it means it’s a priori legal. The reverse, however, is not true. So what it really means when the Library of Congress says ‘well tablets are a broad category’ is that if someone were ever to be taken to court over jailbreaking an iPad they wouldn’t be able to use the exception as a defense but they could avail themselves of any number of other defenses (not the least of which is arguing that the material difference between an iPad and an iPhone from a DMCA standpoint is nill).

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You do realise that in the other countries of which the USA is not part of this action by Eidos and Apple themselves under numerous Trade laws and/or Consumer Acts is actually unlawful, illegal or in some cases both!

Selling something to someone that you know does not work as advertised is classified as milsleading at best fraud at worst.

Oh and Most of those places jail breaking ANY Apple product is highly LEGAL!

I know for a fact that Apple are about to find themselves in a deep and hugely expensive (the fines because astronomical) legal problems due to this (and Eidos as well) within Australia. Where our laws are actually about protecting the consumer against shysters and fraudsters like Eidos and Apple are showing themselves to be in this matter.

The EU, and New Zealand, etc wont be far behind

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: iPads

You’re confusing jailbreaking and unlocking. Unlocking is where you remove the carrier restriction, so that naturally only affects phones & 3G devices. Jailbreaking is where you remove Apple’s restriction to only install pre-approved apps downloaded through their app store. You can still jailbreak your iPad, but if you haven’t done so you should be safe – from the above description at least.

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