Questions: Your DRM Habits?

Don’t know what DRM is? Don’t care about it? Please vote in this poll. Lots of people are keenly outspoken about their dislike of digital rights management, and you can be sure they’ll make their feelings known here. If you don’t know what DRM is, or don’t care, please give us your input alongside everyone else: it’s important for us to get a clear picture.

See below for the poll. And ignore the n, it’s a crazy bug.






  1. Dave Gates says:

    Hopefully this will make some difference. I try to avoid buying any games with DRM if i’m honest. GOG is the way forward chaps.

  2. Talorc says:

    Why the specific “Do you buy games via Steam?” What about GamersGate, Impulse etc?

    I have not bought any games via Steam because they INSIST on regional pricing which makes everything ridiculously expensive in Australian dollars. I have however bought heaps of games from both Gamersgate and Impulse who price globally in US dollars.

    Interestingly the one title that has caught me out not being able to play is Empire Total War – which I bought the old fashion way in a box from the store. But just recently I couldn’t play for 24 hours due to various Steam “cant contact servers” etc messages.

  3. Sparvy says:

    Im interested where you are going with this, but I feel the second question might be a bit… narrow in a way. I said no, because I dont actively persue non-DRM games. However, I have decided not to buy a game or two because they had intrusive DRM.

  4. RogB says:

    DRM normally doesnt bother me, I dont mind stuff like securom if its just a normal CD check, but I dont like the ones that require an install of some nasty drivers (Starforce?) AFAIK, my copy of space rangers 2 has that, and I also remember having to install (and update several times) Starforce when I worked on GTR2.
    Ive just bought a game that I know has starforce, but appreantly its a ‘lighter’ version of the one that requires installation.

  5. Dominic White says:

    @Talorc – because GamersGate/Impulse both have one-time activations for DRM, wheras Steam is a constant monitoring approach with a very wonky ‘offline’ mode.

    There’s quite a bit of cognitive dissonance amongst the people who complain loudest about DRM – the number of people who’ll decry how horrible it is and how it’s ruining gaming, but buy without hesitation off Steam is rather amusing.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Personally, I’m sick of the whole DRM debate. There are whole other sites dedicated to discussing and raging about it, and they’re better suited to the subject. I’ve lost count of how many otherwise good comment threads on RPS have been horribly derailed by DRM rantings.

  7. jon_hill987 says:

    I will not buy anything with limited activations other than that I am good.

    I have been caught out by Steam refusing to start in off-line mode on many an occasion. The trouble seems to be, if you are connected to a network but not the internet it deletes your off-line profile so you have to connect to the steam servers before you can start in off-line mode. The only way I have got it to work is by disabling my network card before steam starts.

  8. Goomich says:

    Does last wuestion include “Games for Windows Live!’?

  9. Goomich says:

    “question”, not wuestion.

  10. Hi!! says:

    The only DRM I’ve had problems with is Steam, with its incredibly stupid offline-mode. It’s not enough to make me avoid it (though the euro-prices usually are), but it’s been effing annoying at times.

  11. jon_hill987 says:

    No edits? When I say “I’m good” I mean happy. I don’t mean I pirate the other games, I just won’t play them. I don’t care if I miss out on Far Cry 2, if it has limited activations I won’t be playing it.

  12. LewieP says:

    My policy is to circumvent any DRM which causes me any inconvenience.

  13. pkt-zer0 says:

    So, elaboration time.

    1 – Yes – only in one instance wasn’t a crack available at the time of purchase (Bionic Commando: Rearmed).
    2 – Yes – Dark Athena and ANNO 1404 are such casualties of the War on DRM. Dark Athena has since been cracked, but now I’m content to wait for a discount.
    3 – Yes – online multiplayer games are okay by me, so are indies exclusive to the service. Only exceptions are Overlord and the Orange Box, bought both with epic discounts. Otherwise, it’s still an annoying form of DRM.
    4 – No – did get caught by disc-checks, a DRM’d installer, to be precise. Otherwise, installing cracks are a standard part of the installation procedure for me now, just like updating to the latest version.

  14. Mr Popov says:

    I’ve tried buying EU3 on gamersgate since I know it has much more lenient DRM than Steam, however I had problems with billing. It rejected my both my credit cards.

    I then bought it on steam. So I tried to avoid restrictive DRM but failed in the end :(

  15. Paul Moloney says:

    “The only way I have got it to work is by disabling my network card before steam starts.”

    To be fair, while annoying and I’d wish they’d fix it, it’s pretty simple to get around:

    1. Right-click on the connection icon in the notification area and select “Disable”.
    2. Startup Steam.
    3. Right-click on the connection icon in the notification area and select “Enable”.

    But yes, there are a few things Valve really need to do to improve Steam. One major one would be to automatically authenticate the game after downloading – _not_ waiting for the user to start up the game. If they try to do this offline, of course, it won’t start.

    But count me as another one bored with the DRM debate, and amused at the amount of people who will appear to cut off their noses to spite their faces.


  16. Smee says:

    I have no real policy on DRM. I don’t like it, but I’ve still bought games that I want which would be considered DRM-broken.

    The only time I’ve had trouble with it is with Company of Heroes off Steam. I bought it last year and as of yet still have not been able to play it due to login/cdkey/steam/drm issues, which is pretty frustrating.

  17. pkt-zer0 says:

    Hah, I can’t read. Turns out question 2 isn’t “do you deliberately try to not purchase games that use DRM”. Well, the answer is still yes, but the elaboration is not all that relevant anymore. Picked up Braid from Impulse for this reason alone.

  18. Feintlocke says:

    157 people bought DRM-infused games compared to 18 “otherwise” at the mo. If the other 156 who’ve voted so far are anything like me they have done this because DRM is unavoidable. Could have done with a question saying “Have you purposefully not bought a game because it had DRM” (I know that’s a lot like question 2)… because that would have been a yes from me also.

  19. SpoonySeeker says:

    I love how the bar graphs are slightly less functional than most promised features in a Peter Molyneux game

  20. LewieP says:

    I wonder if everyone who said “No” to question number one has really fully thought it through. Serial numbers and disc checks are (fairly innocuous) forms of DRM, and pretty much every retail game has at least one of them.

    I would put money on the face that publishers are intentionally using the door the face technique with bad DRM like Starforce and Securom so that when they eventually do drop them, gamers are then happy to then only have to deal with less invasive, but equally pointless and broken DRM.

  21. Feintlocke says:

    Ok, maybe not so much like question 2 … even more reason to show publishers that DRM is a real dealbreaker on any game that falls short of spectacular.

  22. Collic says:

    Voted yes to the first DRM question, and yes to Steam. Steam is the only sensible, (even useful for online play),non-intrusive DRM I’ve ever come across.

  23. Lobotomist says:

    “Have you ever been caught out by online checks and activations and not been able to play your game? (Be honest!)”

    What do you mean ?

    Original or “suspicious” game ?

    I will assume you talk about original games.

    I had many problems with Battlefield 2142.

    Also my internet provider is quite funky. And they do some kind of QOS trottling. So it Steam would take ages to connect ( up to 20 minutes) but it would detect internet connection. So i could not play even the single player games I own.

    Also. Thanks to DRM. You can not return the game anymore.
    What if game has problem with your hardware configuration ?

    Happen to me by Fallout 3. Even after 6 patches , game freezes my PC ever so often.

    And what about limited installs ?

    I installed NWN1 at least 10 times across 4 PCs (Yes i love that game) I would not be able to do that , if it had DRM…

    That are just some cases against DRM , and there are many more….

  24. the affront says:

    Have voted “yes” for the Steam question, although I don’t anymore, these days, because of being unable to pay in $ without proxy shenanigans and their insolent policy of charging me more in € than they would in $, even with EU taxes included.
    But I have in the past and would again if wouldn’t be so ridiculously expensive apart from sales, so I guess that counts as a yes, as far as relevance to DRM is concerned.

  25. Ian says:

    -I have no policy

    I’ve only ever been bitten in the bum by DRM once (in spite of buying other games other people had serious bother with) and that was Football Manager 2009. Had to wait ’til the next day in the end to get it working.

  26. Catastrophe says:

    Question 2 is the most important question here.

    It asks if people will refuse to buy a game if it has DRM or will find the game elsewhere if its only got DRM from that particular shop.

    If the answer is Yes then companies are losing sales due to their DRM. Simple.

  27. Hmm-hmm. says:

    1) Voted I don’t know, but probably not. Then again, I do own two EA games (WAR and Battle for Middle Earth 2).

    2) No policy. I purchase games I like. DRM, if severe, is a deterrent, and it’ll depend on how severe it is and how much I would like to play the game in question.

    3) No.

    4) Yes, once, I’m ashamed to say. Later on I bought the game in question.

  28. Carra says:

    I draw the line at activation limits. Having a system check how many times I have installed my game. Loosing an activation when my pc crashes? That means that when my pc crashes 3x, I can’t play. No!

  29. qrter says:

    But yes, there are a few things Valve really need to do to improve Steam. One major one would be to automatically authenticate the game after downloading – _not_ waiting for the user to start up the game.

    As an option perhaps, not as a rule, I’d say. If you have a slower/older system it can take 10 to 20 minutes to authenticate a game, slowing down the whole thing. In those cases it’s nice to be able to preload, as it were, without needing to immediately authenticate too.

  30. aoanla says:

    Obviously, there’s a point here, as others have noted, trying to be made about Steam being DRM and the inherent cognitive dissonance supposed in people who are “anti-DRM” and “pro-Steam”. The problem is actually that people who dislike DRM dislike “DRM that doesn’t actually benefit them” – Steam’s DRM has enough benefits (in terms of allowing you to install anywhere you want as many times as you want) that the downsides (reliance on Valve’s existence, inability to resell) are ameliorated for many people.
    It would have been nice to have had a “Which of these things do you associate with DRM” kinda question, with positive and negative answers…

  31. Colthor says:

    Question 1 is hard; where do you draw the line between ‘DRM’ and something else? If you’re going with ‘limited activations’ then no (although I got a copy of Far Cry 2 with a CPU, but would’ve bought the CPU if it didn’t come with the game), but if you’re including CD checks or Steam then yes (the latter grudgingly, but I’ll put up with it for cheap games as it’s likely to hang around for a while, I never re-sell games anyway, and the Offline mode actually works for me. I dislike its in(cl/tr)usion in primarily single-player boxed games, though.).

    The final question is ‘no’ because I’ve been really careful about what I’ve bought – because I *did* get caught out once when buying music with similar restrictions. Once bitten, etc.

  32. Ian says:

    I think, to be honest, I have more things in my life to worry about than DRM. Although I do miss those funny old plastic lenses you had to hold against your TV screen to decipher the word displayed underneath. That was a really effective copy-protection system.

  33. Super Bladesman says:

    As I know a few developers, and how much damage piracy potentially does to their businesses, I have no issue with DRM at all.

    So long as it doesn’t get in my way.

  34. skuwiph says:

    Damnit, though I should, in all fairness say that I do refuse to install things that install rootkits and such shite. Windows runs crufty enough without some bunch of numpties bodging shell extensions in VB to sell to clueless game devs.

    Ooh. I practically ranted there. How liberating.

  35. Supraliminal says:

    DRM is so 21st century stuff. I play games older than DRM.

    HAR, Har, har. .

    (Children eaten by DRM today: 5280)

  36. phil says:

    You should add a question – have you endangered your PC by installing incredibly dubious noCD fixes, hacks and other .exe files likely cooked up by austic Russian hackers as a vechicle for their latest worm varients, percisely to disable the DRM on games you paid cash money for but don’t actually work otherwise – because I’m sure a sizeable proportion of people will answer ‘yes.’

  37. bansama says:

    Have you ever been caught out by online checks and activations and not been able to play your game? (Be honest!)

    Not sure if it counts as being caught out or not, but I once bought a game via the EA store which still refuses to activate claiming that I stole it (ie, the CD key they provided me has already been used by someone else). Of course, the reality here is that EA stole my money and then never gave me the game.

    But other than EA store games, I don’t care too much about DRM. SecuROM has never caused me any problems, neither has StarForce in any of the games I bought then later found contained it. As far as hardware/PC crashing, virtual drives, etc., goes that is.

    It’s the limited activations that turn me off of purchasing, not the actual form of protection chose to enforce them, and as long as there is a revoke tool, the limited activations aren’t a problem either. For example, I won’t buy the new Riddick game as there is no revoke tool. And if I buy Dawn of Discovery, it’ll be from GamersGate as they will simply ignore the 3 activations limit.

  38. Aldo says:

    1/ Yes – it’s unavoidable natch
    2/ Yes – or perhaps more specifically, DRM is often a tipping point for both a particular game and also for ‘loyalty’ to a company. It depends on the type of DRM, to be honest.
    3/ Twice – Plants Vs Zombies, and Defence Grid. If either were available boxed, I’d have bought that instead; as is I would never pick a digital over a boxed copy.
    4/ Yes – although with a caveat, mostly to do with trying to play Half Life 2 on a plane (and also to install bioshock). Also had what I think was DRM related problems with GTA4 (provided I understand the consequence of what happens to a ‘pirated version’ – i.e. deliberate camera and control glitches to make it unplayable). I think Fallout 3 gave me a few problems, too.

    (As an aside, I’ve only ever pirated one game in my life, and that was purely to see if it’d run on my then archaic system – it didn’t. There was no demo / benchmark of course.)

  39. Nobody Important says:

    I buy games and then crack them. I don’t care if I don’t have a legal right – other people have stepped in to cover up to idiotic crippling of what the publishers have done to their own games. I most definitely have a moral right – these people have my effing money!

  40. benjamin says:

    Oh, how sneaky. I wanted to say that I haven’t purchased any DRM-containing games and then you followed it up with the Steam question, forcing me to re-evaluate my answer.

    In short, aside from absolutely no DRM, Steam’s the only game in town for me. If a title on Steam has measures that go beyond Steam authentication, I don’t buy it.

    For instance, I wanted to pick up BioShock when it was priced at $5 but shied away when I remembered that it had that absurd ‘limited number of machines’ limitation.

    And SecuROM? Forget it! I refuse to allow a videogame to install software that can interfere with the Windows kernel and device drivers.

  41. jon_hill987 says:

    @bansama: why did you give up, you are in the right, if you still have proof of purchase you should take them to court.

  42. James G says:

    Clarification, for question 2 I voted: I have no policy, which isn’t quite accurate. DRM does indeed factor into my decision, however I will not specifically buy a game just because its lacking in DRM, nor will I entirely avoid a game which I was looking forward too just because it contains it.

    However, the presence of strong DRM is likely to disuade me from purchasing a title, and may be a major contributing factor in me avoiding a purchase. Similarly, an encouraging lack of DRM may lead me to consider a title which I’d have otherwise ignored.

  43. Ayekay says:

    I’ve been caught out by activation issues with legit games now and then. DRM is an aggravating and semi-doomed technology. But it is hard to take the moral outrage it inspires entirely seriously. Boycotts!! It’s like the games contain palm oil or baby seals or something.

  44. jalf says:

    Wouldn’t a more relevant version of the second question be:

    Do you deliberately try to avoid purchasing games that do use DRM?

  45. Howard says:

    Like a few others here, while DRM annoys me there has yet to be one that cannot be circumvented. If a game has idiotic DRM (Bioshock and Far Cry 2 come to mind) then I simple use the cracks that invariably surface a few days before the games release. There is not one game yet that has forced me to deal with invasive DRM. DRM is just a paper tiger and only causes issues, as has been said before, for honest gamers who simply expect their games to work when they buy them.

  46. Duckmeister says:

    I do not like steam for many reasons, and will only use it to get steam-required games (like TF2).

    I recently made the mistake of buying games that I could’ve gotten outside of steam through steam, and ended up sitting on a banned account with half of the games being ones that I won’t be able to transfer to a new, not-banned account.

    In even more simpler terms, steam screwed me out of my money, my time, and then wouldn’t let me transfer my non-screwed items to a fresh account.

    Online activation isn’t that big, but please. I’d like to play my games offline, and not just by ticking the “play offline” button. I want the exe to run whether or not it notices a broadband connection.

    No refunds, no resale, no transfer of games between accounts. Plus, there’s a variety of hidden stuff in the terms of service that enables valve to:

    A. Pull away your games at any time, with no refund. They claim that when you buy from them, you never actually own the game, you just own the right to borrow the game from them.

    B. In the same vein as A, they can claim you’ve been cheating at anytime, and take away your games.

    C. They can remove or add mod functionality at any time.

    D. They can render your CD Key unusable at any time.

    All of these can be done without reason or proof. They can say, “hey we’re banning you because you cheated”, and when you ask for proof they say it’s not their problem.

    This kind of industry-supported fraud shouldn’t be allowed to be covered up by great games and great deals.

    I will never waste another $80 with them again.

  47. Bhazor says:

    Question two
    Surely option 2 and 3 are the same? Unless you’re suggesting people only buy the game because it has the DRM.

    Also is disc verification or product reference count for question 1. If so I really don’t think anyone could answer no.

    Reply to Aldo
    Re: GTA 4 no bench mark shenanigans. I declare applesauce! link to

  48. Jayteh says:

    Last question I said no, only because I have been caught out but found other ways to get around it.

    I would have liked a question more along the lines of “Does DRM have weight in your decision to buy a game or not” and a sliding scale with it.

  49. Paul Moloney says:

    “For instance, I wanted to pick up BioShock when it was priced at $5 but shied away when I remembered that it had that absurd ‘limited number of machines’ limitation. ”

    Um, see, that’s what I mean by the “cutting off your nose” attitude – $5 for one of the best games of recent years, and where said limitation was removed last year.