Imagine That: EA DRM Goes Haywire

By Jim Rossignol on April 13th, 2011 at 10:14 am.

This ogre is not happy about DRM
So there have been some problems with EA’s DRM for Dragon Age. Ars Technica has a good, angry summary of what has been happening:

Thanks to a combination of DRM idiocy and technical and communications failures on the part of EA and Bioware, I (along with thousands of fellow EA/Bioware customers) spent my free time this past weekend needlessly trapped in troubleshooting hell, in a vain attempt to get my single-player game to load.

I know I’m flogging an offline horse here, but these kinds of stories are just starting to make me miserable. DRM is clearly a waste of our time and publisher’s money. I’m baffled as to why people should pour more resources into this, and still come up with half-arsed server-based solutions that require constant checks and are prone to failure. I know, I know. Empty ranting, pissing into the wind. But something has to change.

, , , .

126 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Premium User Badge

    lurkalisk says:

    I always thought DRM was pretty rad…

    • Heliocentric says:

      Which one?
      Digital rights management
      Data Reference Model
      Data Resource Management
      Digital Radio Mondiale
      Direct Rendering Manager
      Distributed Resource Manager
      Dynamic Rich Media
      Data relationship management
      Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm
      Desmin Related Myopathy
      Detergent Resistant Membranes
      Digestive rate model
      DRM, the IATA airport designator of Drama Airport in Drama, Greece
      DRM, the ICAO airline designator of Airways Flight Training, United Kingdom
      DRM, the ISO 4217 code of the Reichsmark
      DRM (Japanese band)
      Design reference mission
      Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft
      Direct-response marketing,
      Direction du renseignement militaire
      Disability rights movement,
      Detrital remnent magnetization
      Direct revelation mechanism
      Disaster Risk Management
      ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DRM

    • godgoo says:

      natch

    • Premium User Badge

      lurkalisk says:

      Oh silly me… Here I was getting worried about the authentic deutsch reichsmarks I got with my copy of DA2.

      DRM is… reasonably rad too, I suppose.

    • V. Profane says:

      I think DRM is a pretty cool guy. eh fucks customers and doesn’t afraid of anything…

    • BAReFOOt says:

      @Heliocentric: That would be “Deutsche Rennsport-Meisterschaft”.
      Yes, even if they themselves don’t use the hyphen on their logo/site/etc. In German you either write it in one word (preferred) or use a hyphen. Otherwise, it’s English grammar. And: Yes, a big part of the population is too dumb to tell German from English, as you can see by the ton of English words they adopted. Sometimes they act like they write German, when in fact, all but one word in the whole sentence, are English. Including the grammar.

    • Premium User Badge

      Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

      BAReFOOt, same thing in Denmark and yes, even the government screws it up here as well. Kind of scary to be “ruled” by illiterates – maybe that’s why we fire doctors to afford an interactive bench that can change colour… I’m going off on a tangent… Booh! DRM!

  2. Mephisto says:

    In another universe, in the same timeframe, Peter Pirate has no such issues and is engrossed in his single-player game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      And THAT’s the greatest problem.

      DRM is what PROMOTES piracy! Recent example? Crysis 2 released last month – I bought game, couldn’t play because of issues with connecting to authentication server. My friend downloaded pirate copy – could play without ANY problems.

      More ancient example? BioShock 2 – I bought the game and STILL can’t play it, despite of god knows how long time has passed, because DRM forbids me to. So I eventually ended up downloading pirate copy and playing it.

      DRM as a way of fighting piracy is RIDICULOUS. It doesn’t fight piracy – it forces legit players to pirate games, and that just… blows my mind!

    • Avenger says:

      Actually, I thought if legit players played pirated copies, It was OK according to EULA? (and common sense, really, you paid for it anyway)

      Anybody shed some light on me?

    • Premium User Badge

      WombatDeath says:

      Yes, it’s very strange. Until relatively recently (the last couple of decades) you could be pretty sure that the cheap knock-off – the fake Rolex, the dodgy Levis – would be lower in quality than the legitimate product. We now have the bizarre situation where the ‘fake’ is innately far superior, from the user’s point of view, to the original.

      I don’t see anything changing. It’s been like this with DVDs for…I don’t know; how long have DVDs been around? Regardless, if I want to watch a DVD – which isn’t very often – I still have to sit through the piracy warning (always strikes me as rather poorly-targeted, that one) and I often can’t just jump directly to the title screen. It’s annoying, and the studios/distributors know it’s annoying, and they know that their products are pirated with all of the crap stripped out, and they still insist on annoying their genuine customers. I see no reason to hope that the big game publishers will show themselves to be any more enlightened.

      My theory is that these people aren’t stupid, it’s just that it’s more politically acceptable to tell your shareholders that “we are introducing extensive technical measures to counter piracy” than it is to say “you know what, it’s more cost-effective and better PR to just live with it and avoid pissing off the people who are giving us their disposable income”.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “Actually, I thought if legit players played pirated copies, It was OK according to EULA? (and common sense, really, you paid for it anyway)

      Anybody shed some light on me?”

      In america no, you have curcumvented the copy protection which is against the stupid restrictive laws they have i beleive, in the UK not sure, think its a breach of the EULA.

      bRemember you don’t have to say yes to the eula, just put the keyboard on the floor and let your cat walk over it, cat hits OK, cat gets sued! Probably wouldn’t hold up in court but then again, bet the eula wouldn’t either.

    • Archonsod says:

      It would breach most EULA’s since they tend to have restrictions about modifying the code, but it really comes down to how the crack works since the EULA usually only covers the actual game rather than the DRM incorporated on it (which may or may not have a separate EULA). Hence replacing the game .exe would be a breach of the EULA, whereas modifying the protection’s driver or similar wouldn’t.

      In the US and UK it could be argued it breaches the law, since it technically bypasses a security measure to allow unauthorised access to data. It’s something that would need to be defined by a trial though since it would rely on definitions the court may or may not accept, and could be argued either way.

    • Kdansky says:

      Also, most (if not all) EULAs are on extremely shaky ground, and often times prohibit things which they are not allowed to regulate at all. Even big game companies rarely go to court for EULA reasons, because they themselves know how risky that is.

      If you give me text, I can edit it, and there is nothing you can do about that fact. And (compiled) code is just another form of text. Next, Rowling starts suing people over writing in the margins of her books. That’s exactly as silly.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      The DMCA in America forbids the removal of DRM from games, yet other government actions and court cases support cracking games and devices with the sole intent of creating backups or maintaining your access. It’s a very convoluted matter with no real clear answer.

      DRM has always worked for me, I have never had trouble accessing a game I bought. The only reason I would need to crack a game would be in the future when the company is no longer around to operate the activation servers. At that point no one will care if you crack the game, so I doubt it will be an issue.

    • bascule42 says:

      Regarding DVD’s. A few months ago, I wanted to watch Lord of War again. Then I thought of the unskippable Mars Bar advert embedded on the disk. So just to see I downloaded a copy and it was quicker for me download a 720p rip than to sit through the Mars ad. I timed it. Was quicker by 7 seconds. That is utter crap. I thought of emailing the distributor to complain but though that would be quite pointless. So I emailed Mars to complain – not the planet smartarse – at least they said sorry it was out of thier hands and sent me 2 coupons for a couple of Mars Bars.

      So, maybe, hitting on the publishers for this bollox might be the wrong way to go about it. How about finding who the investors are and complain to the money…dont they get a say in the company every so often?

    • BAReFOOt says:

      The thing is: In factual real world, copyright is a crime, and DRM is a worse crime.
      Because it is essentially information eugenics.

      You can’t control information. Just as you can’t control control gravity. Freedom of information is a law of nature. Which can be proven with this simple example:
      If you pass on information to random people, you lose control of it forever. The amount of control you keep, is defined by the amount of trust you have in those recipients. Which for any business will approach zero. So the only way left, to keep control, is to not pass it on. Well, in that case, good luck proving it even exists. As to prove a atomic part of it exists, you have to pass that very part on. Giving away all control of it forever.

      The rest, with copyright, DRM, etc, is just terrorism and oppression, same as every other Mafia on the world. To support a delusional business model that closes its eyes to the above facts.
      Which can only fail, since the facts won’t go away because of that.

      I, for one, will not rest, until every last one of those cocaine-snorting Mafia criminals is thrown out of the country, and their fantasy of insanity is wiped away from all minds forever. And I have over 10,000 people in my country alone, who actively do the same. With hundredths of thousands supporting them.
      That’s more than the entire media Mafia “staff” of the world.

    • Starky says:

      @bascule42

      You must have fucking fast internet if you could download a 2-5 Gb 720p rip in the time it takes to sit through a 20-30 second ad on a DVD you own.

      You’d need more than 0.5 gigabits (500 Mbit) per second download.

      Puts my 0.05 gigabits per second download (50 Mbit) to shame

  3. Jakkar says:

    Keep it up, Jim. You know RPS has become a pretty powerful megaphone, and you know your name is respected, insofar as anyone’s is in this field. You’re one of the few in a position to make a notable difference.

    Rant on. Rant on. If the price is that I have to.. read.. more.. RPS content, day by day..? I’m sure I can deal with that.

    How about the rest of you?

  4. gorgol says:

    Anyone else notice the WTFness going on?
    Last article he lols about and praises Gary’s Mod DRM, calling for more of that kind of thing, and in this one he says “DRM is clearly a waste of our time and publisher’s money”.

    Make up your mind?

    But yeah, anyway, DRM is not good.

    • Quxxy says:

      Insofar as I’m aware, no legitimate customers have been hit by the GMod pirate bug. This DRM system is actually locking out legitimate customers right now.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Allow me to explain, we’d all rather drm went away forever.

      However, in this world drm exists and when it actually catches thieves (instead of just hurting paying customers as is generally the case) that is awesome.

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      Heliocentric: Yes, but DRM ‘success’ stories like that only encourage the sort of thinking that there is a right way to do DRM, other than to just not have it.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      It’s really quite simple – DRM that works and does not in any way impede legitimate customer’s ability to play the game (especially if it allows non-legitimate-customers to play the game while legitimate ones cannot) or serve to frustrate them = GOOD. The opposite = BAD.

    • gorgol says:

      To all those saying that the GMod DRM is good,

      you’re forgetting that there’s always a way around DRM. As Jim states “its always a waste or everyone’s time and money”. In the GMod case as bans are involved its also open to abuse, so its not just pointless, its also potentially harmful.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      Anyone else notice the WTFness going on? Last article he lols about and praises Gary’s Mod DRM, calling for more of that kind of thing, and in this one he says “DRM is clearly a waste of our time and publisher’s money”.

      Yeah, I’m not going to demand a redaction or an apology or anything, but you are sending out some mixed messages here…

    • Deano2099 says:

      One method of DRM affects legit users and not pirates. The other affects pirates and not legit users. Big difference.

      That said, I don’t think Jim would argue that, in terms of actually stopping piracy, the Gmod stuff is still “a waste of time”. However in terms of being sort of funny it’s time well spent.

    • SpinalJack says:

      I think he’s asking the “internet” to provide more funny stories and not to get more DRM into games

    • Delusibeta says:

      Impossible. The error code includes the victim’s SteamID, and so if they match with an account which has a copy of Garry’s Mod, the user in question isn’t banned from Facepunch’s forums.

    • Ogun says:

      @gorgol
      I think the article is about crap DRM, not copy protection in general.

      Entirely agree with the chap on ArsTechnica – I think there’d be slightly less hatred for severe DRM if a lot of it wasn’t so badly written/implemented/managed.

      Wouldn’t be right to mention the providers name, but I started adding over-the-top copy protection to an application a few years back (at a client’s request). While trying to fix one of the numerous bugs with the SDK, I stumbled across another bug on the key management website. If I replaced my userID in the URL with some other number, I could edit another user’s account. To prove the bug before reporting it and looking for a new copy protection system (the client ended up rolling their own), I went to account 1 and changed the address details for the account that controlled the copy protection application itself (after changing and restoring a few keys and settings to ensure I had full control of the account).
      I reported the bug and almost immediately got a short, private reply saying that it wasn’t a big deal (presumably from someone with a wildy fluttering arsehole) – a fortnight and lots of ASP errors later, they’d finally fixed it.

      My point is that that sort of thing is really basic, it should be a fundamental element of how your system is programmed – if you’re getting that wrong then everything else you do demands scrutiny. It seems like a lot of the game DRM problems are similar, missing the basics like communicating problems to users and knowing what to do if the servers go down/are unavailable.

      I must have dozens of games/applications on my PC that required basic serial key authentication at installation and none of them have ever been an issue. Sure, there are cracks for some of them, but they still get plenty of sales, protect their product from the dumbest of the dumb and make it clear to the rest that they’re stealing. You don’t need to make your copy protection Draconian for it to do its job, you just need to let a thief know that they’re a thief. Thinking that you can genuinely protect software without risking problems on the client machine is just stupid.

    • Milky1985 says:

      @Delusibeta

      Did you read the full post or just see the first comment and make the snap judgement.

      There is a post at the bottom from who i assume to be gary saying “ok sorry its fixed”, it was a confirmed false postive.

      Again people say impossible but NOTHING is 100%, stuff like the more minor earthbound copy protection they did is more fun (not the whole crash and delete your save at the end).

      In earthbound if it was a dodgy copy they cranked up the encounter rate, perfectly playable but a lot more challenging!

    • Wulf says:

      I agree with that praising the GMod approach is silly and I definitely agree that RPS should redact that, and that this is the stance that they should be taking, because if the GMod thing goes sour then it’ll only look bad for them.

      The problem I have with the GMod system is that it’s incredibly easy to create false positives, far easier than you’d believe, I originally suspected this, but since I hang out with nerdy University students, I ran it by one of those doing programming courses, someone who was familiar with hacking, and they laughed. If the Garry’s Mod people decide to hand this information over to Steam for account bans, then…

      Well, let’s just say that the lulz will be heard around the world, but it’ll be drowned out by the rage.

      When you have a system like that where it’s easy to create false positives, it’s also incredibly easy to inconvenience people, and if that inconveniencing leads to them being locked out of their account wrongly, then how, on earth, is that any different than this? The truth of the matter is that the GMod approach is no less flawed than the Bioware approach. All DRM is flawed because it can end up so easily broken.

      Technology is not infallible, it’s created by incredibly fallible humans, there are always cracks in the code, so to speak, so we should stop pretending that it is infallible. That’s the root of all evil, right there. And with something like the GMod system, you’re inviting so much PEBCAK that it isn’t even funny – since the people who’ll be going over this data are humans, humans who’ll see Steam IDs being reported, and will check them for the existence of Garry’s Mod, and will then act based upon that, without checking whether the person posting actually owns the Steam ID.

      DRM is always bad karma, man. Always.

  5. BooleanBob says:

    The flogging of a dead horse in England can cause a storm in a teacup on the other side of the world. Or something.

  6. Sentient Waffle says:

    This is the thing i really, really, really don’t get.

    WHY do they keep pouring money into useless DRM that only worsens the game experience for people who buy the game legally?

    EVERY game gets cracked and pirated, no matter how advanced their DRM is.

    • Wulf says:

      Shareholder: You doing anything to stop dem evil pirates with their Intramanets of stealing?
      Company: Why yes, we’ve created a draconian DRM system that’s sure to stop them in their tracks!
      Shareholder: Capitol! :D

    • LionsPhil says:

      Because Macrovision have a good sales team.

    • benjaminlobato says:

      It also confuses me why publishers keep using these DRM systems that will inevitably be cracked anyway. I think this article may explain some of the reasoning however:

      “Valve’s Doug Lombardi, and others I spoke to off the record, say that at least for digitally downloaded PC games, DRM and copy protection is here to stay. For Valve the biggest push is to lock down those “zero day” pirates. Day zero is the time between when a game goes gold and when it is available for purchase. Lombardi, and many others, are convinced that that’s when a bulk of piracy occurs.”

  7. Premium User Badge

    HermitUK says:

    My younger sister came back from uni this week and fancied replaying Dreamfall. But if you install it on Windows 7, the Starforce copy protection will break your Windows 7 install – upon reboot the auto repair will kick in and spend a good 30 minutes fixing stuff and removing Dreamfall and Starforce from the Hard Disk. The only fix was to download a cracked .exe to remove the Starforce protection completely.

    DRM is nothing more than a tick box to appease the publishers, who don’t care if it’s an irritant because they never play the games anyway. It boggles the mind that none of them really realise how entirely useless it is in stopping piracy.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Starforce also causes dvd drives to slow down and in turn causes their performance to decay and initiate a slow death spiral of the workings grinding together at sub optimal speeds.

      You can reset that behaviour by uninstalling the drive, or halt it by messing with regedit, but eh. Now my dvd drive sounds angry when i play dvd movies, the damage is done.

    • skurmedel says:

      You only lease the DVD drive from the DVD drive maker or something… I’m sure its there somewhere in a non-legally binding EULA.

    • Premium User Badge

      Colthor says:

      @Heliocentric:
      Wasn’t that just caused by Windows automatically switching the drive to PIO mode after too many errors (due to deliberate errors on the disc for copy protection)? Make sure it’s running in the best DMA mode it supports (I think you can do it in Device Manager in XP, not sure about Vista/7), that should make it happier.

    • Drakon says:

      Holy crap, thanks for the heads-up, I’ve been wanting to replay Dreamfall sometime these days.

    • Archonsod says:

      PIO is universal compatibility mode, and you might want to note that using the drive to play movie DVD’s or Audio CD’s will usually have it running in PIO mode while it does so. If the drive can’t handle it I’m pretty sure you’d have a good case for claiming it’s not a DVD drive in the first place.

    • Premium User Badge

      Colthor says:

      PIO and DMA are merely the methods for transferring data from the drive to memory; PIO is slower (16.7MB/Sec) and requires CPU time, DMA is faster (up to 133MB/Sec) and independent of the CPU. There’s no reason for a modern drive (insofar as PATA drives are modern) to be running in PIO mode, but older versions of Windows would revert after too many errors (assuming that DMA was the problem, I suppose):
      http://support.microsoft.com/kb/817472

    • Archonsod says:

      There’s several reasons you’d want a drive to run PIO rather than DMA. Such as DMA not being supported on the device it’s plugged in to. Either way, PIO is one of the few universals of the DVD book.

    • Wulf says:

      I hate Starforce with a passion. If you ever see it on a game, please tell people not to buy it, because it’s as bad as it always was (unlike SecuROM, which isn’t quite the nightmare these days). One recent instance I saw of it being used was Precursors on Gamer’s Gate. Avoid.

      My hate relationship with Starforce started when it set every single drive on my system to PIO mode. That’s not only optical drives, but my HDDs too, and it insisted on resetting this! It was fun because it was killing the performance of my HDDs and it had me convinced that my HDDs were dying since every time I tried to switch out of PIO mode, they’d go back into it.

      After a little reading, I gutted Starforce from my computer, and lo, I could bring my drives out of PIO mode! All was well again. Starforce does some evil shit. And yeah, it can impact the performance of all drives and ruin optical drives. It also gives itself RING0 access on your system, which is a black hat hacker’s wet dream if they wanted to get into your system.

      Seriously, avoid at all costs.

  8. Orija says:

    Hopefully The Witcher 2’s arrival on GoG.com without DRM will set a precedent.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      Same. Let’s hope it makes a difference.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      The Witcher 1 got it’s DRM removed after some time in Patch – I think every company should do this if not removing DRM completely since very beginning. Just after 6 month release patch fixing the game from this crap and at least legit players will be able to fully enjoy the game eventually.

    • Kdansky says:

      I’m not sure I want Witcher 2, I found the first one just okayish. But I’ll buy it out of spite for DRM.

  9. Zealuu says:

    I had this on monday. Yay, free time, so I thought I’d continue on my quest to replay DA:O (after being massively disappointed by DA2) … Only to discover that I couldn’t load my game. None of them, in fact. Of course, since I bought DA:O on launch, I’d seen this before – so I spent an hour or two stopping and starting the DA Updater service, reinstalling it, deleting the DLC, redownloading and manually install it, and so on … Only to later discover that there was nothing I could do, because it was all thanks to some spectacular screw-up on EA’s part. In the end I just deactivated the DLC and forced the game to load, probably dooming my saves to corruption and DLC compatibility glitches forever.

    Such is the life of a non-pirate.

  10. Quxxy says:

    But something has to change.

    Nothing will change so long as people continue to buy games with bullshit DRM attached to them. Personally, I make a point of not buying games with horrible DRM attached to them. I was really, really looking forward to Bulletstorm, but refuse to buy it because of that.

    Well, ok, I refuse to buy it because GFWL is the most horrible thing to ever happen to games (hyperbole, ho!) but you get the idea.

    • Mephisto says:

      GFWL wrecks lives sales. Would have picked up Bioshock 2 in the Steam sale yesterday but I won’t encourage GFWL.

    • Icarus says:

      Yeah. I was seriously considering picking up Bioshock but GFWL -and- Securom? Uh. No thanks. I’ll go and stock up on toffees instead, ta.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Toffees!!

    • Bhazor says:

      So you’ve never bought a Steamworks game then? Or any game on a console?

    • Kandon Arc says:

      The problem is if no one buys it, the publisher just assumes it’s piracy and gets working on a tougher DRM while the developer probably gets hammered. Publishers don’t link DRM to lower sales but they will link lower sales to piracy. It’s a lose/lose situation for gamers really.

    • Icarus says:

      Correcting myself here: Bioshock 1 did originally use SecuRom but it seems to have been patched out a while ago. Bought now. I’m willing to tolerate GFWL in the case of a very good game like Arkham Asylum and Dawn of War 2.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Ah bugger I bought Bioshock 2 in the sale last night as I had my PC on for a few mins & won’t get home tonight until after the sale ends/changes. Wonder if I can ask for a refund. Do not want GFWL at all.

  11. tims says:

    Did this effect the Steam version too?

    • Kaira- says:

      From what I’ve read from the forums it would seem so, though I can’t say that I’m 100% sure.

    • Ravenger says:

      Yes it does. On my Steam version of Dragon Age the DLC wouldn’t authenticate a few days ago. Luckily I realised it was probably a server side problem and played something else.

      I wish companies would learn from Steam’s handling of DLC. It integrates seamlessly into the game and doesn’t need to be authenticated if you’re offline. It just works. Consequently I’ll only buy DLC now for Steamworks games, and then only DLC that adds substantial content to a game.

    • MrMud says:

      It very much doesnt work with steam.
      In fact DA:O is anti compatible with steam.

      Most steam games will still work when you move the steam directory but DA:O doesnt because of the authentication service mentioned in the article.

  12. RaytraceRat says:

    I love games with DRM and useless addons like GFWL. Its almost like buying 2 games. First you must complete quite complicated quests – registering on some sites you dont want to register, reinstalling GFWL, patching up etc. Lots of those quests are non-scripted, so you never know what might happen. After all that, you finally can play the game, but more often than not, the actual game is way easier then the pre-quests.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      I love this.

    • sinister agent says:

      I know what you mean. I bought Company of Heroes over a year ago, and it’s amazingly difficult. I still can’t even get past the startup sequence.

      Worth every penny. Just imagine if I’d got it for free – I’d have missed out on the most challenging level.

  13. Ravenger says:

    I’ve been affected by this previously. A Dragon Age DLC authentication glitch completely broke my single player game on my first playthrough. The game logged me out during a game, unloaded the DLC and corrupted my savegame making it impossible to progress. It did this in a really subtle way, so it wasn’t immediately noticeable. I had to reload a save game and re-do several hours of gameplay.

    It wouldn’t be such an issue if companies patched out the DRM after the initial sales peak. How old is Dragon Age now – it’s over a year at least.
    Anyone who wants to pirate the game has probably done so by now, and the game is relatively cheap. No point in keeping the DRM, even for the DLC.
    EA have form for this though – even games like Mass Effect, Dead Space and Mirrors edge still have limited activations in their retail versions, and it’s been years since they’ve been released. There really ought to be a sunset clause with DRM, for the customers sake, and also so that publishers can minimise their support costs for older games.

  14. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    WOOOO!

  15. juandemarco says:

    I have no ethical issue whatsoever to crack my legit copy if the DRM fucks up or makes my gaming experience crappy. I have bought the thing, I have the damn right to play it, and if they do not allow it because hey, I’m probably a thief if I buy their stuff, then cracked .exe all the way.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep. Hooray for corporate logic.

      We bought the game, we can’t play the game we bought, we can’t return it for a refund having bought it from a digital distributor, we crack the game and now we can play and enjoy it, but now we’re all criminals who’re considered by these corporations to be worse than rapists.

      Go capitalism! 8D

      Normally capitalism doesn’t bother me, but it does seem to give birth to the worst sorts of stupidity, doesn’t it?

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I don’t think you need to be a capitalist – ie to believe that those who finance the production of goods should benefit via profit from their sale, thus giving them the incentive to finance the production of more goods – to be asininely greedy.

      This doesn’t really have anything to do with capitalism, and more to do with very, very poor business practice. You can be a capitalist and find DRM utterly odious.

      Oh, and corporatism /= capitalism.

  16. Schiraman says:

    This stopped me from playing Dragon Age at the weekend, and in so doing seriously damaged my (already limited) respect for EA and Bioware, meaning I will now be very hesitant about buying games from them in the future.

    It also made me wonder if I could maybe get the game running properly if I went and found a crack or something – I wonder how many other people thought the same thing?

  17. Derpington Hurrrrrrr says:

    DRM has nothing to do with piracy, because it doesn’t do anything to stop it or make the pirate’s life more miserable. It does, however, makes the legitimate customer life miserable and shows its true face as a tool for stopping the used games market. I have the Ultimate version of DAO on STEAM and I’m forced to download the same version from torrents so that I can play it. Maybe I’ll just pirate the next game EA wants to sell me and spare myself the trouble?

    • Wulf says:

      Well, EA are certainly telling you that they don’t value you as a customer.

      Also: That’s an amusing username.

  18. Vexing Vision says:

    So EA did a UbiSoft?

    The real problem remains, as someone else pointed out, that legal copies of the game are much harder to get to work than the pirated ones.

    I’d much rather have companies do things like the Garry’s Mod “Identify A Pirate”-Day than these flaky security measures.

  19. Deano2099 says:

    I’ve not been a fan of the “bad DRM justifies piracy” argument before, but thinking about it there’s a fairly strong argument there.

    DRM like this is bad for consumers. It’s alright saying “but it’s just one day of downtime out of 3 months” or whatever, but many of us are busy people, and if that one day just happens to be the same day we’ve finally found a free evening to get stuck in to the game then it may as well be 100% downtime.

    The problem is, if some horrible DRM system comes out like this, and the pirates don’t crack it, the response from the publisher will be “it worked!” and every game will then start using it. Likewise if there’s a huge drop-off in piracy rates it’ll re-enforce the belief that this stuff works.

    Put another way: if a game comes out with horrible DRM and people not only don’t buy it, but don’t pirate it either, piracy rates go down, DRM considered a success, DRM used again. If everyone starts pirating it *because* it has awful DRM, piracy rates go up, DRM considered a failure (when the pirated version of AC2 finally came out, it got a lot of news coverage on games sites, not really helpful).

    Now of course, this still doesn’t justify either morally or legally the playing for free of 100s of people’s hard work but still…

    • Archonsod says:

      Problem is it’s hard to call it DRM. The game itself is fine, and works as intended out of the box. The issue is you can’t use DLC. Which is tied to your EA account rather than the game.

      Not that it means there’s any less reason to complain.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Man Raised by Puffins says:

    Strange, I could have sworn the Dragon Age DRM only required online checks on activation. This is a bit shitty.

    • Deano2099 says:

      It does. Problem is the DLC requires you to be logged in to work. Including the ‘free’ DLC bundled with the game, any free pre-order or flash game bonuses, and the stuff on the Ultimate Edition disc. And if you try and load a save game with DLC when you don’t have the DLC turned on, it won’t load.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      If you have any sort of DLC, or pre-purchase inventory items present, it will insist on verifying that you have the right to them every time you load a saved game. I had problems with it before, when I had a flaky internet connection.

  21. The Promised Landt says:

    As was pointed out in the article, the communications failure was what really made me angry – I couldn’t play during the weekend, and googling the error message led me, like the author, to a few posts with various workarounds and hacks etc..
    An official post saying “this is a server problem, we’re working on it” has been posted on monday – had it been up on friday, when the problems started occuring, it would have saved me a few hours of tinkering on the weekend.

    And, yes, it made me regret buying instead of pirating. I want to do the right thing, but I don’t want to get punished for it :/

  22. Teddy Leach says:

    Sod them and their shitty DRM.

  23. Someblokius says:

    Seems to be affecting Mass Effect 2 as well, which would make sense I guess. Could be a coincidental cock-up on my end, but I doubt it.

  24. Tei says:

    I have buy yesterday Bioshock 2 in Steam, and I was unable to make it run. The thing failed again and again to contact a server.

    Is Bioshock 2 real? maybe I have buy this installer, and theres no real game after all, or auth server, is all a joke.

    I don’t understand why a Steam game “subscription” also have another DRM on top Steam DRM.

    • Ravenger says:

      You’d think Valve would have enough clout to insist that no game on Steam has 3rd party DRM, or at least any form of DRM which has limited activations, as they go against Steam’s philosophy of tying games to your account, and not a computer.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      I got the same issue, bought game shortly after release (retail version) and still can’t make it run.
      Download pirate copy – it fixes the issue. Fixed for me at least. :)

    • Tei says:

      I will try again this night. Then if it fail, It will check the way to undo the sale.

      Is the first thing I have this type of problems with a Steam game. I hope is a server hipcup, or something similar.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I didn’t buy it in the Steam sale, because I’d bought it almost-but-not-quite-as-cheap from Play a month back. But I didn’t even give it the chance to try to activate: I quickly found and downloaded a torrent of the crack only from Razor1911’s release.

      Unfortunately it doesn’t remove GFWL, but you can play it without a GFWL account (search for how to create a “local account”).

      I paid for the game, and now I can play it without activations or such nonsense. Thank you, Razor1911.

    • LionsPhil says:

      undo the sale

      Good luck with that—Steam’s policy as-written is no refunds for any reason.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      It’s not only Steam – most companies have this crap, especially big one making crap-products as EA or Ubisoft.

  25. Mihkel says:

    Why not just crack it? I used to do this to my original copy of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory all the time to avoid Starforce bullshit.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      I can understand people who do this, and I’m ok with it from a moral perspective if they have paid for it, but

      a) You are breaking the EULA, and in some countries the law, which can come back to bite you (though the risk of getting caught is incredibly small).
      b) I don’t know how common it is any more, but a favourite way of hackers to spread new their viruses and trojans used to be to attach them to cracks…

      That’s why I hesitate to do it myself.

    • trjp says:

      Just a quick note – EULAs are not ‘laws’,are legally untested and are quite possibly, totally meaningless.

      When you download a ‘cracked’ executable for a game you’ve bought, the only law you might break (in the EU) is if you use a Torrent to do so. Torrents share with others what you download, which is “making copyrighted works available to others”.

      That said, most cracks contain very little content likely to be copyrighted anyway – and some are entirely unique works.

      In the US, the DMCA and other legislation may make this situation less clear…

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      That solves the problem. Although it can give problems with updating the game, installing DLC,…

      Having to crack your own games… It really just shows the idiocy of DRM.

  26. trjp says:

    The reasons Steam games sometimes have additional DRM are twofold

    1 – some publishers can’t be bothered to remove the DRM from the Steam version. (This also explains why some demos have DRM)

    2 – Steam isn’t a very strong DRM in itself – there are well-known ways of getting around the ‘need’ for Steam. In fairness tho, this applies to most other DRMs as well – only bespoke systems (like the Ubisoft nonsense) have managed to slow pirates to any degree…

    • nil says:

      More precisely, Steam’s stronger DRM (CEG) is optional, and I assume Valve charges extra for the privilege.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Demos have DRM because otherwise they are a huge help to crack authors working on the full version—they can look at the differences between the two.

  27. Pharos says:

    If the DRM system is such a failure, surely you’d be within your rights as a consumer to return the product as faulty or unfit for purpose? If you can prove your computer met all the system requirements – in fact, that’s unnecessary as Bioware/EA admitted it was their fault – then the retailers, however much it annoyed them, would have no choice but to accept returns.

    If enough of us do this, retailers would probably put pressure on publishers simply to protect their own interests. Or they would stop stocking PC games. One of those two.

    • trjp says:

      Computer Software is pretty-much excluded from consumer law protection EU-wide – even store-bought stuff.

      I’m pretty sure if you called-up Trading Standards (in the UK – or it’s equiv elsewhere) they’d shrug their shoulders when you talked about software problems.

      If you got the game via download, you almost certainly dealt with a company outside the EU – EA are Swiss based and most others are US-based – which means you’ve got nothing whatsoever.

    • Archonsod says:

      The other problem of course is that the game is fine, you can happily play it, you just can’t utilise any of the DLC you might have for it.

  28. Hunam says:

    Go to your dragon age ini, open it up in word pad, find onlinetelemetry, change the 1 to a 0. Problem solved :)

  29. fionny says:

    Did you know that if you adjust your TCP/IP settings with something like tcp/ip optimiser you will also break the DRM by not being allowed to log in until you reset it… have no idea why…

    Took me ages to figure what was wrong after I optimised my connection for HD video streaming.

  30. alexmasterson says:

    It seems 2011 is not a good year to be Bioware…

  31. Metonymy says:

    DRM is often a problem if you want to play old games as well. The DRM, coupled with patches, and bugs that never get fixed, and limited or nonexistent support, (mainly because no one cares anymore) means you need to find a clean copy that runs on it’s own.

    The best way to prevent piracy is to create a great multiplayer game that everyone wants to be involved in. WoW violated sales figures, not because it couldn’t be pirated, but because everyone wanted to be on the official servers.

  32. Harkkum says:

    I personally do think that DRM as a one-time activation to an online service is enough. Then with, say, every patch you need to verify your account again and there is more than enough security to safeguard the investment of developers.

    Although I do feel the pain of game developers when those asshats known as pirates keep on reaping the harvest of others hard work. I find the digital community as something quite paradoxal where people are at the same time bemoaning over DRM and justifying piracy as means to avoid said DRM whereas the sole reason for DRM to exist is to prevent piracy.

    The age old adage of lowering the price to remove piracy is certainly not true as even cheap-as-dirt indie games are pirated. I also find it somewhat hard to grasp how people can easily justify violations of intellectual property whereas they would never commit a crime of theft in the life-less-digital. I certainly don’t envy ‘em game companies.

    • TNG says:

      “(…)the sole reason for DRM to exist is to prevent piracy.” <- That is not true.
      DRM technologies exist to limit the use of digital content and devices and that goes beyond piracy 'prevention'. They are actually widely used in the industry to restrict consumers to certain software and hardware devices approved by whoever produced the digital material the consumer bought, in order to help maintain brand loyalty and such. However, when you are using a process that not only has no added value to the consumer but also hampers the use of the legally acquired material, then you can safely assume that "you're doing it wrong!"…. you just couldn't get away with that in other industries but in here few people seem to care, which is curious to say the least.
      But I agree with you in that it is a hell of a conundrum not only for game companies but any company that has digital products to solve: how to stop or at least reduce piracy when people do not consider a digital product as valuable and real as a palpable physical one and hence do not find a problem with illegal copies of it (although I have a much bigger issue with those that actually sell for profit other peoples' material than single users downloading it for their own personal use but that's an whole other subject I suppose).

  33. Navagon says:

    I think an RPS article on DRM – the overall motivations behind it (like shareholder-pleasing) and the pros and cons of DRM out there right now as far as publishers and end users are concerned. Basically something that is a sane voice in what is quite clearly a subject born out of an irrational mindset.

  34. starclaws says:

    Oh look … yet another fuck up from EA. This is like turning on the news channel and seeing the weather report. It will always be there.

  35. bleeters says:

    Incidentally, I avoided this problem by simply not logging in to my bioware account upon starting up Origins.

    So, uh.

    Assuming they’re referring to the same one I know of, the ‘mix of hacks and tweaks’ to circumvent the authorization system involves opening a certain configuration file and replacing a certain 1 with 0. Not that this is completely acceptable, mind, but it takes a couple of minutes.

  36. Dan Forever says:

    I bought Dragon Age: Origins for my Dad at Christmas, and he’d been enjoying it, up until recently, thinking a computer crash had caused his game to break. He was asking me what could be wrong and how it could be fixed over skype, but since I have the 360 version I hadn’t encountered the problems he did, so I didn’t have any answers.

    Thanks for that EA, you’re wasting my Dad’s time!

  37. Kandon Arc says:

    I’m starting to wonder why publishers don’t turn off their DRM after a year or so. After all, how many people are really going to be pirating DA:O now that it’s been on sale so many times and now that it’s sequel is out. The majority of pirating happens when a game is released and then serial pirates move on to the next new game.

    I really don’t see the harm to EA of allowing DLC to be played in ‘offline’ mode.

  38. Rond says:

    What exactly is the point of coming up with all kinds of crazy, unnecessarily strict DRM systems (and I’m sure they spend hella money on development thereof)? It’s not like anyone made an impregnable one. They just continually fail at making an effective copy protection system. Why don’t EA or Ubi call their next one ‘Sisyphus’?

  39. Nick says:

    The person clearly just said something bad about EA on the forums.

  40. Rii says:

    Forget this DRM business, let’s cut right to the heart of the matter: Intellectual Property is a crock of shit.

    • benjaminlobato says:

      Right, and all the people that make a living developing video games should just give away their work for free.

  41. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    I wonder if Bioware even care that their reputation is increasingly dirt.

    I doubt it. Too busy pushing out tired shovelware to keep the money coming in so The Old Republic doesn’t bankrupt them.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Eh, I know what you mean -_-

      A few days ago a friend asked me what my top 5 developers were, and I filed off my well rehearsed Valve, Lucas Arts Entertainment in their adventure years, Irrational, Bethesda mostly because Morrowind is the best RPG ever, and then comes Bioware… but it just felt wrong, and I realised I’m not a massive fan atm. Ended up saying Looking Glass instead.

  42. BAReFOOt says:

    More like Draconian Age, amirite? ^^

  43. Premium User Badge

    Hypocee says:

    Something is changing. That poll…last year?…made me starkly aware of how much I spend on this hobby, but on the flipside it showed me just how little I spend on big name publishers’ software these days.

  44. Kefren says:

    DRM is the bugbear of games, films, music, e-books… Oh yes, anything DIGITAL really. I normally look at it from a writer’s perspective (I’m anti-DRM) but usually refer to other media likes games too, e.g. http://karldrinkwater.blogspot.com/2011/03/drm-part-two.html

  45. Premium User Badge

    MajorManiac says:

    Heres my 2 pence;

    If publisher wish to reduce piracy they must provide a better service than the pirates.

    That is all…

  46. Duoae says:

    You know… it wasn’t that long ago that this post would have been filled with pejoratives such “angry internet men” etc.

    Huh… how does that glove feel when it’s on the other hand?