from the how-nice-of-them dept
Of the many misguided DRM restrictions that software developers have employed over the years, "limited activations" are among the most arbitrary and bizarre. In an attempt to avoid the simple fact that all software is infinitely copiable, developers release software that can only be installed a limited number of times—supposedly striking a balance between multiple legitimate installations (someone with multiple machines, or who simply goes through computers quickly) and the fact that many people will lend the disc to a friend. Of course, such a balance is impossible: there's no upper limit on how many times some purchasers might need to legally install the software, and there's no lower limit on how many additional copies can be allowed before some people will give them away. Any number you choose is at worst completely meaningless, and at best a very weak compromise.
Rikuo sends in a good example of this: to celebrate the release of the game Crysis 3, the studio has raised the activation limit on the original Crysis from 5 to 50. It seems like a nice gesture, but it doesn't really make any sense—why not just remove the limit entirely? The game is nearly four years old and cracked copies are easy enough to obtain, and it seems like they aren't that worried about piracy, since otherwise I don't imagine they'd make the limit so high. But the real slap in the face is that, when you get down to it, this is still them restricting your legitimate use to their arbitrary terms. Rikuo sums it up:
On the surface, this is good news. But, when you stop to think about it, it gets silly. Here's why.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who ran into the limit. Suddenly, this game we had dropped good money on, no longer worked. I and others are constantly swapping in and out PC components, or upgrading to entirely new systems. Each and every time this happens, it eats up an activation. So, for a good while, we had a game that by intentional design, refused to work. Now, all of a sudden, Crytek has graciously said, yes, you can play the game. This is quite simply obnoxious. When you get right down to it, Crytek held our games hostage and only now is letting us play them again.
We are the people who play Crysis on PC. To do so, you need a powerful system. To have a powerful system, we are more than likely the type who are constantly buying new components, buying new systems. We absolutely HATE IT when we have a game that refuses to work simply because we bought one computer too many, or swapped out our graphics card or CPU one too many times. When that happens, we have to spend time hunting down a crack from dodgy websites, virus-scanning them to make sure they're safe and then running them.
Crytek, do not hold our games hostage. It may seem like a good thing that now we can install the game 50 times, but its still a finite limit. Things happen. Windows could crash and I might end up having to reinstall it. I could get new components or a new computer. When considering new purchases, I do not want to have to keep track of how many times I'm allowed to play the games I've bought. I do not want to have to wait for you to say "Oh, ok then, since you've been good and bought Crysis 2, I'll allow you to play the first game again". That is not how it should be. I've already paid for the first game, my ability to run it should not be contingent on the reveal of another game being in development.
Indeed. Once again, the only people the DRM affects are legitimate consumers—and they are forced to dive into the pirate ecosystem for cracks even though they didn't pirate the game. Adding a zero to the already-arbitrary activation limit doesn't mitigate this insult to customers so much as it rubs it in.