Sims 3: No Online Authentication!

By Kieron Gillen on March 26th, 2009 at 4:45 pm.

He's probably pirating his own game.

Well, this is a pleasant surprise. With EA’s embracing of online-activation culture, you’d have expected to see it turn up in Sims 3. But it’s not to be, as made clear by an announcement by Ruling-Sims-Monarch Rod Humble. “The game will have disc-based copy protection – there is a Serial Code just like The Sims 2. To play the game there will not be any online authentication needed,” says Rod Humble, “We feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future.” While fans of freedom will be pleased, I was personally hoping for some DRM so prescriptive that it requires one of the developers to be standing behind you, silently watching, for the game to boot up. Man!

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72 Comments »

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  1. Meat Circus says:

    Yay for abandoning one shit form of DRM.

    Boo for adopting another *even more rubbish* one.

    EA are such morons.

  2. Captain Awesome says:

    Perfect. I hate DRM.

  3. Plec says:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  4. Frosty840 says:

    Translation: Copy protection is completely broken, but we trust normal gamers to be able to crack it without bugging us too much. Shipping broken copy protection to the mass-market audience of The Sims will kill all of our tech support staff and make our datacentres implode. So we’re skipping it.

  5. Optimaximal says:

    Dear EA,
    Put your money where your mouth is and release patches for ALL your DRM’ed games to revert them to this method.
    Sincerely,
    The World.

    This is clearly pre-release sales chasing – they know Spore was caned for its restrictive fluff and sales suffered (well, sortof) and they don’t want the same fate to befall their #1 money spinner.

  6. The Hammer says:

    “Boo for adopting another *even more rubbish* one.”

    Man, tough crowd!

    Though, this seems very archaic, and appealing for it. No getting in my way, Electronic Arts!

  7. rocketman71 says:

    DRM is DRM is DRM. Disc DRM is bad and useless. Online DRM is worse. Both will be cracked just the same. It may take one day, it may take one week. Two weeks after release (perhaps even two weeks BEFORE release), pirates will be playing the game. Why punish your customers for nothing?.

    (Answer: it’s EA, stupid)

  8. rob says:

    Meat Circus, how on earth is this more rubbish? It is pretty much the least invasive form of copy protection (other than no copy protection). It isn’t a good way of stopping the game from getting copied but then the ridiculous stuff that came with Mass Effect was equally as useless.

    This is nice to hear from EA, I hope it works out for them.

  9. bansama says:

    Now if only they had done that for Spore in the first place.

  10. Skurmedel says:

    Yeah, maybe disc based protection is rubbish, but I’ll take it any day over big brother-esque online activation.

  11. ZIGS says:

    why they skipped DRM on The Sims 3? Because The Sims’ audience is mostly composed by people who know shit about computers and just want to install the game and play. If these same people had to deal with the awes of DRM, EA would get the headache of a lifetime.

  12. Heliocentric says:

    So we need the disc in the pissing drive? Twats.

  13. MartinX says:

    Are Sims players the kind of people who know or care what DRM is?

    Are they the kind of people who have the techno-cultural know-how to seek out cracks or even know that such things exist?

    My 11 year old sister says: “what?”

    I’ll reserve my praise for when they take similar measures on games people would want to steal.

  14. Colthor says:

    Jolly good! Hopefully this isn’t a one-off.

  15. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    Just after Valve announced a new Steam DRM that is not DRM, more from Stardock and Microsoft:

    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/03/26/1513208&from=rss

    The main thing that concerns me about Steam’s DRM is the fact that I cannot play 2 different games simultaneously. It seems crazy that I cannot play game A on my desktop while my wife or a friend plays game B on the laptop. This hasn’t been a problem so far, since my selection of games on Steam is limited. But in the future it’ll start to become more of an issue.

    P.

  16. Chaz says:

    I suspect they just don’t care about the piracy with this game as they know it’s going to sell by the truck load anyway.

  17. Sp4rkR4t says:

    They need to go back to typing in the word of page X paragraph X word X, at least it forced you to read the manual.

  18. clive dunn says:

    i know this is naughty but i would love it if millions of 11 year old girls pirate this. I mean, if they can navigate around the net why is pirating so ‘difficult’. 30+ quid is a lot of money to an 11 year old. I’m not advocating piracy i just don’t like to see 11 year old girls patronised.

  19. Pstonie says:

    I would also prefer Kieron’s method. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a developer handy to kick in the nuts for selling you a broken game?

  20. clive dunn says:

    Aye, i would pay good money to see footage of anyone responsible for GTA IV stubbing their toe, let alone have them around to flick drawing pins at!

  21. Ecko says:

    [Meat’s comment arrived on the wrong website – gone now, and response removed to avoid confusion. THIS NEVER HAPPENED – Ed]

    And so that this post vaguely remains on topic, oh come on chaps, it’s a massive step in the right direction. I can only hurrah it, but then again, I haven’t had any children, which could then be eaten by DRM.

  22. Cooper says:

    Time proven solution?

    Time, in that, yes; requiring a Serial code is one of the oldest around (often a manual page reference), requiring a disk in the machine has been there since, well, CD existed.

    Proven? What as in that pirates can crack these things with their eyes closed? Maybe EA have a new form of disk protection that will not be cracked for first day release? I wouldn’t have my hopes up if I were EA.

    That being said, this is a welcome move. To an extent. I only worry that super duper disc protection will have a habit of invading those recesses of the operating system I’d rather not have EA near. Money on EA’s new disk protection opening up a security hole and leaving loads of customer’s computers infected? One can hope…

    Not that I care too much, I’d never have bought Sims 3 anyway.

    Also, kids nowadays… I’m surprised the Sims still sells so well, given that they seem to have no problem filling their ipods for free…

  23. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    I hope that Elite IV comes with Lenslok:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenslok

    P.

  24. Steve says:

    Don’t consider this a turn-around – it’s not. Selling such a huge franchise with their usual brand of awful DRM could potentially draw unwanted media (they love ‘casual’ games, after all) attention to said DRM.

    Your normal dose of DRM will undoubtedly be back in force for more ‘hardcore’ titles.

  25. c-Row says:

    A codewheel like in old Lucasfilm Games times maybe? Of course, with all the available options from the Sim Creator.

  26. Tei says:

    DRM is inmoral. Copy protection is ok. I have no problem with publishers adding some weird copy protection, if it works…. server autentification is the typical service that the first day is off-line because can’t handle the load, and after 5 years is offline again forever, because having servers online cost money. So server autentification has a copy protecition is broken on my end, on the user end. Maybe we (the users) and then (the publisher) can talk, and sort out this thing. I have not problem on a world finally banning warez for new games.

  27. c-Row says:

    @ oceanclub

    If I could vote, Elite IV could come with whatever copy protection they want, as long as it ever gets done. :(

  28. loci says:

    Hilarious how the sims brings out the tough guy in some.
    There is no place for macho bullshit in the gaming community.
    For we are all little girls to real men ;)

  29. frymaster says:

    “Time, in that, yes; requiring a Serial code is one of the oldest around (often a manual page reference), requiring a disk in the machine has been there since, well, CD existed.”

    since before, since arguably entering a code from the manual encompasses old tape-based games which asked you for work 4 from line 2 on page 45 :P

    note that the infamous security hole thing was _never_ an infection vector*, it just theoretically made it easier for things to hide once they pwned your machine – but any machine that has been pwned should always be formatted and reinstalled ANYWAY – just because they aren’t able to take advantage of one possibly non-viable hiding method doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of others

    Personally I’d prefer something like steam – the “burden” of having to install on a computer with a net connection (not that the first thing I did wouldn’t have been downloading whatever patches were out there anyway) is outweighed by not having to remember where I put the sodding disk – but at least it’s a return to the status quo of a few years ago. And presumably, once they get around to including their UK stuff on steam, that will be available to me as well.

    * Though the point was, although the particular security hole wasn’t really an issue, what if the next hole _is_? Which is valid, although it seems wierd that it’s only DRM solutions that get this kind of criticism and not, say, network card drivers or sound drivers or graphics drivers.

  30. frymaster says:

    that should be _word_ 4, dammit

  31. daysocks says:

    Their disc-based copy protection for the Sims 2 installed SecuROM on my PC.

    I do not trust.

    Do not trust at all.

  32. ILIA says:

    well i gues that, this is at least a step in the RIGHT direction.

  33. subedii says:

    Two words: THANK YOU.

    Seriously, I really do appreciate them doing this. Forced online verification always leaves me concerned that in 5 years time I won’t be able to play my games anymore because somebody’s unplugged the server.

  34. Smurfy says:

    Just get it on Steam if you hate entering a 12-digit code so much.

  35. jonfitt says:

    I think this has little to do with doing what the gaming community wants. I think it’s far more likely that if any game had a significant audience that either doesn’t have an Internet connection, or uses a 56k modem, and would find online activation difficult, The Sims would be it.

  36. mrrobsa says:

    Respect to EA for doing away with horrible online activation methods. Disc and Cd-Key will do nicely thanks.

  37. Blaxploitation Man says:

    This game is going to get pirated so hard now.

  38. jonfitt says:

    The Sims was always hugely pirated, but it also sold hugely.

  39. Persus-9 says:

    Another thing that’s probably a factor here is the SecuROM liecense fee. I bet they pay a fee for each copy they sell and for as many copies as the Sims sells that’s going to be one heck of a lot of cash compared to relatively few if any extra sales it’d generate.

    Sure similar arguments probably hold true for most every game sold but it’ll probably be particularly true of The Sims.

  40. subedii says:

    @Blaxploitation Man: As opposed to Spore, which used not just online verification but also install limits. Cast iron systems and guarantee’s which ensured that it…

    … Became the fastest pirated game of it’s generation, a week before release?

    Yeah, sorry, I’m failing to see where you’re going with this.

  41. Dyscharge says:

    This makes sense, as the huge majority of the people who play the Sims series are “casual” gamers, or better said: kids, soccer moms, girls, and the rest.

    Since EA can easily break through the expenses of developing the game simply by selling it to its main consumers (the “casual” gamers), the pirates won’t be so annoying.

  42. Larington says:

    Heh, watching people get pissy because EA are using a less intrusive form of DRM is most entertaining.
    Try to appreciate battles won when it happens guys, before you give yourself a heart attack.

  43. FreezerBag says:

    I guess I’m weird, but I hate having disk based DRM. I’m pretty happy with online activation so long as it’s not insanely draconian.

    So for me this is a big loss. Hopefully they’ll put Sims 3 on an online store with activation as well as this retail, disk based, solution.

  44. BooleanBob says:

    Sheesh. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” much?

    At least this is more familiar ground EA are treading. The stories being spun earlier this year featuring them as some plucky underdog figure to ActiBlizzard’s Goliath were completely disorienting.

  45. dsmart says:

    Well it makes sense that they’d do this for the Sims given the target market.

    But if past EA trends are in play here, then its going to be using SecuROM (which supports both online and DISC based DRM).

    If it uses TAGES, then all bets are off and we can all look forward to yet another EA bashing session in due course.

    Personally, as a gamer, I think online activation is the better method because it means that I can install and play my game anywhere and anytime without having to tote discs with me.

    I find it funny that this week alone at GDC, Microsoft, Valve and Stardock have all announced fangled new DRM schemes. Meanwhile, other ESD sites such as Direct2Drive, Gamers Gate etc don’t care what DRM publishers use, as long as it works with their backend systems.

    At the end of the day, the weak link in any DRM system is publishers not being consistent. You can have a game released using different DRM schemes – one of which is going to be cracked, making the others pointless and/or obsolete.

    e.g.

    Game A uses SecuROM hardware DRM, SafeDisc on Direct2Drive, Armadillo on Digital River, Starforce (!) on Gamers Gate, Steamworks on Steam. One of these will be cracked, making the game available and automatically rendering the effort put into the others, pointless and a waste of time.

    For our upcoming game, we’re using only one (ByteShield) DRM globally. Since it can’t be cracked, there is chance of some tit cracking it on some other ESD site due to a weaker DRM in use.

    In a perfect world, there would be no need for DRM.

  46. cliffski says:

    I prefer disk based DRM to online. Occasionally relics servers die and then i cant even play COGH singleplayer. Also, a game I bought that used steams DRM sucked, and thanks to steam itsnot resellable.
    Sounds like i can buy the simns 3, play it when their servers overload, and sell it if I dont like it.
    Sounds like a great idea to me.

  47. Heliocentric says:

    I have a early retail coh and a second unpatched install. When relic goes down i can play the early copy. With massive overpowered rangers and canellopies with functioning turrets. Awesome! But yes i like games where i don’t need to be online or use a disc. There are quite a few, indeed coh used to be one.

  48. Xercies says:

    Hurrah for us.

    But I bet they’ll put DRM later on some other games they have.

    Oh and Stem should also be boycotted as a DRM method, i won’t go into it now but its nearly as worse as EA DRM.

  49. gbarules2999 says:

    Bah; I only buy my games from gog.com these days.

  50. Xyzzy says:

    Thank god, now I might actually buy this game. I’ve been holding off from buying, well, anything from EA (but I reaaalllyyy wanted Burnout, so I pirated that with plans on buying later) as well as Spore, which I will only buy in the Super Ultra Mega Double Fantastic Superb Deluxe Edition With All Useless Addons Added In For Your Enjoyment copy of Spore. This seems like a step in the right direction.