Draconian Dragon Slain: Dragon Age DRM Free

By John Walker on May 5th, 2009 at 11:32 am.

DRM cleft in twain

A spot of interesting news regarding Dragon Age: Origins. Bioware and EA have announced that the game will be coming out without Securom DRM, or any other form, beyond an old-fashioned disc check before loading. This means the old-skool fantasy RPG won’t require any online authentication at all, and thus will have no install limits. Another sign of EA’s changing mind about game protection.

Blues News reports the story, picked up via the official Dragon Age forums, where Community Coordinator (come on community, follow me in groups of four) Chris Priestly describes the announcement as “good news.”

“We’re happy to announce that the boxed/retail PC version of Dragon Age: Origins will use only a basic disk check and it will not require online authentication. In other words, the retail PC version of the game won’t require you to go online to authenticate the game for offline play. We have chosen not to use SecuROM in any version of Dragon Age that is distributed by EA or BioWare.”

He then goes on to plug a few other Dragon Age bits and pieces, clearly hoping that people picking up on the DRM story will slip it in. Oh, go on then.

“Some other cool stuff that we hope you’ll like – we have already launched the Dragon Age toolset beta, which offers developer-grade tools, and we’re looking forward to what fans will create with it. We’ll also be supporting the game with a ton of great downloadable content that will be available for purchase after the game’s release. Together these features will provide some very cool reasons to go online with Dragon Age: Origins.”

So that’s good then.

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85 Comments »

  1. Chris Evans says:

    Just like Sims 3, EA is changing tact!

  2. Xercies says:

    Awww now i won’t have an excuse to pirate it…damn EA! ;)

    Seriously though it looks like they have learned there lesson, though if they were not putting DRM on it..why did they delay the PC release to come out at the same time as the 360 release?

  3. MetalCircus says:

    Now that’s good news. Hooray for EA’s rather lovely u-turn.

  4. ArtyArt says:

    “a ton of great downloadable content that will be available for purchase” … purchase? Well, that’s the next thing they can work on, as far as I’m concerned… (isn’t going to happen, I know…)

    …but hooray for good old disc checks!

  5. Markoff Chaney says:

    Wow. I had thought of holding off to see what the community pulled out and am still concerned about bugs (the bane of any far reaching CRPG) but I feel I need to be there day 1 to support this.

    Thank You EA. You are listening to us. You deserve some currency for that one. I know the wife is giving some for Sims 3, so that’s double happiness from this household.

  6. Bhazor says:

    It could mean “Instead we will now require a birth certificate, a photo signed by your kindergarten teacher and your own left teste as collateral.”
    Still better than Securom though.

  7. Rook says:

    Personally I much prefer the not-having to have the DVD in the drive online check. It was just the install limits that were mind-numbingly retarded.

    As for the PC version delay, it simply wasn’t finished I thought.

  8. Bobsy says:

    Good news. Now un-announce that it’s being delayed until October to coincide with the 360 release and we’ll be friends again, EA.

  9. Lars Westergren says:

    Yes, by the early release date (was it February) the game apparently wasn’t finished, for any platform. In the Bluesnews comments today, Derek French from Bioware states “I am working on the PC version right now and we are not quite there yet. Sorry if you don’t believe me. “

  10. James G says:

    @Rook

    Oh no, the official reason for the delay was that it was ‘too good.’

    More realistically I think it was a chance to allow EA to consolidate its advertising campaign for the console and PC versions. Previously it is unlikely that the PC version would have benefited from any advertising, and then any subsequent console ad campaigns would have been hindered by the fact it was a PC port.

    I hope Bioware have taken the extra time to apply an extra layer of polish, and further bug testing. It would be a shame to think that the gold master just sat around for an extra six months.

  11. toni says:

    how about retro-actively removing securom from your former titles like mirrors edge and dead space ?

  12. MetalCircus says:

    Just an aside, but don’t you think the Spore protest business on Amazon has helped in making this possible somewhat? Ironic because that was something that was lampooned by RPS and it’s readership when I thought it was necessary. People here are saying “yay they listened to us” No they didn’t. They were scared the Spore thing was going to hurt future sales; they’re a corperation, why should they care what you think as long as they shift units? The only reason for this u-turn is because of the amazon spore thing.

    Don’t get me wrong, its a good u-turn, but people believing EA are some kind of new found humanitarian for listening to them is a little naive.

  13. Gladman says:

    Wow this sure changes whether or not I’m going to buy the game! /sarcasm

  14. Pavel says:

    Oh great, so back to using NoDVD cracks again, then : /.

    I too, much prefered DRM in Warhead or Mirrors Edge which did not require from me the effort of getting up and picking up the box from the shelf and putting the dvd inside my drive……………………………

    So..bad news for us lazy people.

  15. Helicentric says:

    Forcing a disc check is still a dick move, but at least the digital distributions stand a chance of being limit free.

    Make me not require a disk in the drive and them I’ll hail you as the savours of the world.

  16. abhishek says:

    this is good news. drm protection doesn’t stop games from getting pirated. but going drm free can earn them a few sales and general goodwill.

  17. EBass says:

    Good stuff, I’ve been keeping a close eye on this one. No excuse not to get it now.

  18. Colthor says:

    Huzzah! And yeah, it *does* change whether or not I’ll buy it.

    Hey, EA, whilst you’re being all friendly and consumer-focussed, how’sabout activation-free budget releases of Dead Space and Mass Effect? Go on, you know you want to.

  19. SirKicksalot says:

    Generic Age DRM Free

    Fixed.

  20. James G says:

    @Pavel
    The lack of a requirement for the disc was one of the few pluses of the Mass Effect style activation. However on the balance of things I’d prefer to be able to install the game a few years down the line, when activation servers may be down, or after I’ve had a few too many re-installs.

    On a related note: did anyone else notice that the disc check of Fallout 3 was ridiculously easy to bypass? Makes me wonder why they even bothered?

  21. James O'Hare says:

    It’s about time they started doing that. If I wasn’t already buying this game anyway, I’d likely have bought a copy to show my support.

    Disk-checks still suck, but I’d much rather that than having god-knows-what DRM measures installed on my computer. Besides, it means digital versions should be totally DRM free, which is fantastic.

  22. Ian says:

    Disk checks? Die, EA! DIE!

    Those bastards will expect me to own my own hardware to play the game on next.

  23. Cooper says:

    I want to like EA for doing this, and I think I do. If payments for add-on content after the release is how EA are going to justify a lack of DRM, that’s fine, it’ll support people like me who never really care about the additional content…

    It kinda goes back to what some have been arguing about indie games – if small teams can stay afloat appealing to a select few uber-fans, rather than casting nets wide, maybe big dev houses can appease publisher’s sense of lost revenue that they associate with piracy by milking (or ‘enhacing the experience’) of the larger fans of big release games?

  24. Bhazor says:

    Reply to James G
    Well the people who hacked it would of hacked it with it was ten times harder. But people like me who just handed games like Urban Chaos or Sacrifice (which don’t do disk checks and sold horribly) to just about everyone in my class wouldn’t be able do that. Before you ask, I still know most of them, they all enjoyed both games and absolutely no one paid for it. Personally I don’t use cracks because when I tried it with Pro Evo 2009 (having to hunt down the disk took far too long to be worth an eight minute game) it came with a lovely virus that deleted half my windows install. When I did the same with Space Monkey/Space Mutant for the same reason it installed a little program that sent my old bank details out. The system I support is the kind that is used by CoH Opposing Fronts which is internet activated if you have internet or a dick check if you don’t. Protects the maker and saves me having to rummage in my own filth.

    Also it’s presumptive to guess the game will still work on the computers of space year 2020. It would have to be able to be used underwater for a start.

  25. Acosta says:

    A disk in the drive!

    HOW THEY DARE!

    WHERE ARE MY RIGHTS? WHAT DO THEY THINK THEY ARE TO TELL ME WHERE I HAVE TO PUT THE DISK I BOUGHT WITH MY MONEY! THIS IS PREPOSTEROUS, OUTRAGEOUS, AN ATTACK TO MY DIGNITY AS HUMAN BEING AND CONSUMER!

  26. kuddles says:

    Add me to the list of people who wouldn’t care no matter what they used. Although technically I guess I would have preferred Securom. Go online for two seconds, then never need to put the disc in the drive ever again. Too bad the internet is so whiney that now we have to go backwards.

  27. teo says:

    Day 1

  28. jalf says:

    I wonder what happened to all the very loud people who claimed that protesting the DRM in Spore was a waste of time and wouldn’t achieve anything… ;)

    Disk checks are a bit annoying, but 1) they’re easily worked around with a no-cd crack, and 2) they never *prevent* me from installing or playing.
    The fact that EA can no longer decide if and when I should be allowed to play the game I bought (and that I can play the game even if/when they go out of business or the auth server taken down) trumps all other concerns.

  29. danielcardigan says:

    If it’s going to have an online presence like the NWN games then they probably think tying your account to your CD key is going to be enough to encourage people to pay for the game.

    Not really that interested in this game anyway. I haven’t liked a Bioware game since Kotor 1***.

    ***That’s a personal opinion and not intended as an attack at anybody who thinks Mass Effect or Jade Empire were any good.

  30. Ziv says:

    now if only games wouldn’t cost 60$ I’d buy them. seriously I think the problem isn’t DRM (of course there is problemw/ thp who require dental proof that you are the owner of the game). it’s that games cost is so expensive that it becomes harder and harder to squeeze them in the monthly budget, if 7-8 years ago I could squeeze a 20-30$ game into my grocery list it’s almost impossible today making games a luxury that I can’t buy on a regular basis.

  31. MrFake says:

    Hurray! One small step towards EA’s redemption. Now they can start dropping some of their subsidiary studios and shrink themselves back to EA Sports, then brood in the corner where they were meant to be from the start. I want Maxis, Westwood, Bioware, Mythic, Pandemic, Bullfrog, etc. Yes, I hold EA accountable for the subversion and demise of each of these (or I’m just needlessly bitter).

  32. drewski says:

    Sold.

  33. Morph says:

    I doubt people rating Spore one star on Amazon really mattered (or affected sales one bit). But a general consensus of ‘this is bad’ from all parts of the industry certainly did.

    Disk check is fine by me. I’m confused why people would care about it.

  34. Moriarty70 says:

    This is great to hear.

    Now, as a Canadain I know the real reason for the delay. All Canadian products are made with a default maple syrup setting. Bioware forgot they were releasing to an international market and thus have to de-syrup the game so as not to cause a pandemic of diabetes.

  35. Markoff Chaney says:

    @ MetalCircus, jalf, et al.

    Indeed it was the (in my opinion) completely justified outrage of the AIM on sites like Amazon that caused this reversal of tactics by EA. What do you think was meant by my original “You are listening to us” comment? :) I wasn’t talking about those that purchased their products that are rented crippleware with a kill switch or unrevokable (now fixed) installs and didn’t say anything. That may describe, by and large, who purchased the product, but that’s not the full market share available for the product, and the AIM let a company know they could make more money by treating potential customers as friends instead of thieves. I think it is as disingenuous to say that not a single sale was lost due to their DRM as it is to say that every single pirated piece of code is a lost sale.

    I do think EA realizes that alienating people who are more than willing to purchase your product serves no good business purpose and may be a worse deterrent to your company getting money than the availability of the product through black market channels where you see no revenue. Add to this the fact that Spore, despite being trounced by the community for such draconian DRM, was available on the black market days before it was available for legal purchase. I don’t see how anyone in the company could see that as a success.

    Link online (preferably free updates (Much Love Valve)) content and patch distribution with a unique key and put content (persistent worlds, addons, etc) online only. It’s all they had to do for Spore, really. Pirates get a gold master, as they always will, but give them no further content. Want the full experience? Pay for it. Just don’t nickel and dime me after I already spent 50 dollars on what is supposed to be a full experience. That’s a different discussion altogether, though.

    As always, my button says Opinion away! so take that as you will.

  36. Jeremy says:

    Never understood why putting a DVD in a drive was such a problem. Just need a cause and running out of reasons to complain?

  37. Tinter says:

    Just started fiddling around with mass effect again. The DRM crashed my computer every 10mins. Fortunately, I managed to fix it so windows just crashes in the background and I can keep on playing with just a hint of slowdown. Wonderful.

    Now I can actually buy Dragon Age. Good stuff EA. Would be nice to have a patch to kill the DRM for previous releases though.

  38. Zulu-Echo14 says:

    Wait, wait just a minute! If they are not worried about people pirating their game, could some please explain me the purpose of delaying the game by 10 months to match the console release?!

  39. TCM says:

    Never had a problem with DRM, every DRM ‘issue’ I’ve read about has been exagerrated beyond belief or misinformed, topic is a dead horse, let me know when we collectively move on.

  40. Rook says:

    Here’s why having to have a DVD in a drive sucks: I have a laptop at work as well as a desktop at home, and my work often involves 2 hour incubation periods or late nights to just keep an eye on things. Because of steam, I have access to the entire library of my games there to play when I want. I don’t have to take a bunch of separate discs into and back from work because my friends might want to jump onto TF2 or UT3 or L4D or even TQ.

    Also as someone that moves a lot for work or study, I don’t want to be dragging 20 or so games with me in the same way I don’t want to be bringing the 100 or so music CDs I have.

    I don’t know how DRM became the New Coke for disc checks.

  41. Evangel says:

    Anyone else have a feeling that EA will try something else to fuck users over?

    TCM, how would you like a game you install to artificially limit what you can do with your computer? To connect to a third party server and transmit unknown details drawn from your computer? To refuse to install just because your changed your motherboard?

    TCM = Trusted Computing Module?

  42. Tei says:

    Not having DRM is a good thing, like not having AIDS. But a disc-check is much like having herpes. Is totally anoyng to “hunt” a particular disc on your collection. I have all the icons on the desktop, and all games are a “full installation”, so don’t really need the CD. Maybe this is good news, since theres a cure for CD checks called no-cd patch’s, so is something you can undo. DRM is much more vile, if a game don’t install because the EA server is down, you are much screwed. You are still screwed if the CD break, but at least you can do something, while a server down is EA deccision.

    Theres also a special version, clean from cd-checks, drm and stuff. For free.

  43. TCM says:

    @Evangel

    I don’t really care either way about what data EA syphons off from my computer, it’d be illegal for them to take anything useful, and Valve does the exact same thing with Steam. (which everyone except the most hardnosed antiDRM guys seems to claim is the model for the industry)

    As for refusing to install because I changed my motherboard, that would be bad, wouldn’t it? (To date I have changed my motherboard 4 times (in a row, even) since installing Mass Effect, and it works fine on my first install.)

    And artificially limiting what I can do with my computer…Well, I’m running BitTorrent and Daemon tools whenever I play one of these heavy DRM games, and if I’m not limited at all in those, what is it limiting?

    (TCM = TheChronoMaster)

  44. Bobsy says:

    Steam a) sweetens the deal by supplying you with high-quality service and b) doesn’t limit the amount of computers you install to or the amount of times you can install it. In fact, with Steamcloud it encourages playing over several different machines.

  45. Jason Moyer says:

    I’m definitely in the group that would much rather have to connect to the internet twice (once to install, once to uninstall) than have my DVD-ROM used as a dongle like it’s 1993. I kinda wish they’d at least give us the choice of which protection to use as SecureROM is far less of a pain in the ass than constantly shuffling/scratching my game discs or waiting 6 months for a nocd to come out every time a game is patched (or, as seems common with more and more games, never getting one at all after version 1.0).

  46. jalf says:

    @TCM: Lucky for you. It seems you missed the point though. I believe Mass Effect requires an activation per installation, but not if you change motherboard without reinstalling. So yes, you got by using only one installation.

    Sucks that some people occasionally reinstall games though, for a variety of reasons. I have a couple of friends who’ve been unable to play Mass Effect for a long time because they ran out of activations, and didn’t feel like phoning up EA to beg for another activation.
    (I bought the game on Steam, so I didn’t have the install limit)

    Several other games require reactivation if you change hardware though, so even you would have been hit by the DRM if you’d installed a number of other games.

    But honestly, don’t you see a problem in this? You’ve been able to play Mass Effect *so far*, and therefore, you believe that DRM can *never* prevent you from playing *any* game? That is so shortsighted I find it hard to believe. How about if your next motherboard change blocks your ME (apart from the fact that, like I said, I believe ME counts installations, not hardware changes). But no, that’s inconceivable because it hasn’t been a problem *yet*.

    And artificially limiting what I can do with my computer…Well, I’m running BitTorrent and Daemon tools whenever I play one of these heavy DRM games, and if I’m not limited at all in those, what is it limiting?

    How about “preventing you from running or installing a game because the DRM servers determine that you’ve used up your quota (whether that’s install limit or hardware change limit or something else)? I’d say that is limiting.

    The nice thing about CD checks is, like others have mentioned, that it can be easily circumvented by the user. If I want to play games on my laptop without the DVD drive plugged in, I install a no-dvd crack, and voila, I’ve got a game I can play as much as I like.

    CD-checks can be annoying, but they are never showstoppers. (apart from everything else, they become complete non-issues if you buy your games through digital distribution). They can be circumvented, and the publisher can not decide on a case-by-case basis whether to allow you to play.

    On a side note, let’s not talk about “redemption” or “saviors of the game industry” yet. EA has reverted one of the biggest blunders they’ve ever made. That brings them back where they were two years ago. Well done, but I’d like them to do something *positive*, rather than just undoing the negative things they did previously before I hail them as saviors of anything.

  47. Jeremy says:

    Still though, I am not often at a point where I’m playing more than 2 games at once, maybe this makes me the minority. Also, the fact that you play games at work probably makes you the minority :) Where do you work and how do I sign up?

    Regardless, the disc requirement has never bothered me, probably because it is there on most games and I have a tendency to play my games in a linear fashion, as in, I buy one then won’t play any other games until it is finished.

  48. Wulf says:

    That seems mildly…

    Hm.

    Well, suffice it to say, it’s a poorly conceived plan if nothing else.

    On one hand, we have: “Yay, there is no DRM!”

    This was happy-making, but then they go on to say: “But it’ll have a disc-check, which is still DRM, but yanno, not big name DRM, so there will be DRM, just not nasty DRM, which is cool, right?”

    I mean, by that merit, the PC version of Oblivion had ‘No DRM!’, because that only had a disc-check too. And this is why crack torrents have large amounts of seeders, usually, not because people want to pirate games, but because no one really wants to have to A) keep the game in the drive or B) authenticate online.

    As long as there are obstacles, there will be cracks, as long as there are cracks there will be distribution groups and people dreaming up excuses for piracy.

    So no, EA, having the devil we don’t know on that disc instead of the one we do doesn’t make the situation better.

  49. Jeremy says:

    False.

  50. drewski says:

    How is a disc check the devil we don’t know? We know precisely what it is and have somehow managed to game for a decade and a half with it without the world ending or anyone spamming Amazon with AIM reviews.

    We’re going from the spy in the machine to the devil in the disc drive. No, it’s not perfect, but at least we’ll actually own Dragon Age.

    Try reselling your copy of, I don’t know, Empire Total War…