Weekend Open Forum: Has DRM spoiled your fun?

By on August 26, 2011, 7:50 PM

It seems like every week the Internet is up in arms over some DRM-related injustice. The consensus tends to be that most DRM schemes cause grief for paying customers while completely failing to thwart piracy. I can't speak for any other TechSpot staffers, but that's an argument I can agree with. There's no shortage of complaints about DRM while most digital entertainment such as games and movies are readily available on various torrent sites.

Although the anti-DRM crowd is more vocal, I often see users who say they're okay with companies using DRM because it doesn't affect their experience. I imagine that's true in most cases. As annoying as Ubisoft's always-on DRM may seem, it probably doesn't affect a majority of the company's players. That raises an interesting question: Are you against DRM because of some moral predisposition, or has it actually affected you in a negative way?

To be extra clear here, we're not asking about your stance on digital control schemes that accompany today's media. We want to know whether such mechanisms have negatively affected your consumption of said content. If you're going to participate in the poll, answer honestly -- don't click "yes" solely because you disagree with the presence of DRM. Naturally, you have free reign of the comments to elaborate on your views and experiences.

In my case, I can recall at least two very recent situations (this summer) where DRM rained on my parade, so it should be no surprise where my vote lies:

  • Splinter Cell: Conviction generally launches flawlessly, but earlier this summer refused to perform a proper online validation, effectively locking me out of the game (it would load to the main menu and then fail to connect, forcing me to close the game). I thought Ubisoft's servers were down so I retried a few times over the course of several days. I eventually reinstalled Ubisoft's Uplay software to correct the issue, which remains unknown to me.
  • Before transferring an audiobook to my iPhone I had to authorize my Audible account through iTunes. Although it should've been as simple as entering my username and password, the login process failed repeatedly. I later discovered that my Audible password was too secure. Although my credentials worked on the company's site, logging in through iTunes wouldn't allow special characters such as an asterisk. I had to change my password.

User Comments: 44

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

With the exception of Ubisoft's "always connected" DRM which can be a pain (and I no longer buy their products), it's frankly been a non-issue for me. And now with Steam, it's literally invisible.

Game bugs have always caused me more problems than DRM.

okrings said:

Short answer... yes!

I have on several occasions completely avoided buying a game because of a DRM. This doesn't mean I'd go pirating the game. It simply means I'll never get the game because of said DRM. Hello Ubisoft. You won't get my money. When I see pirates having an easier time than I'd have paying for it, I just avoid the game entirely. My resolve on this issue is way, way stronger than my *need* to play a certain game. If you piss me off, I'm not gonna be your friend. That means I don't like you, or the games you make. This isn't just about Ubisoft though. For example: Capcom did some stupid stuff to Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, but then they recognized that and fixed it. They admit they "had it wrong" according to a link to some article on Steam.

Guest said:

Quite honestly, Let me play the game I bought and paid for on any machine I own.

Let me back it up, so I don't destroy the original copy.

and let me play it without DRM (I don't mind 1 time activations ...and verifications for updates or patches)

quit thinking the user is out to get you.

Pirates will always break the software - no DRM will work - even UBISOFTS

They will play it without it and with less issues ...

meanwhile you PO'd your paying customers with the DRM

I may not like pirates - but it's reality.

if the game manufacturers would lower their prices and offer methods (like advertising to help pay for it)..or micro-payments that non-paying users be more willing to entertain. they could reap more $$$ than they are doing now

kids don't have deep pockets...don't expect them to follow rules or buy expensive games

just find another way to deliver the product cheaper or free-to play - so pirates don't have options

Guest said:

Yep, havn't bought a PC game since 2007 because of stupid draconian DRM. I also refuse to waste money on Steam games that you never really own.

JudaZ said:

DRM have sabotaged gaming, for me several times. .

Now with Steam i have no issues anymore though .. but i used to pirate games just to get good working version. I still do that with DVD's from timd to time ...

(Cant remember how many times I have bought a DVD, often as a pre-order as well and payed extra, and the menus are all screwed up . So i have to rip the disk and fix the menus, and then burn a copy. (Whats that all about??) First one it happen to me was with Crouching tiger , crashed right at the start. And there was nothing physically wrong with the disk. The menu files was actually created incorrectly (i checked it and found out when i rewrote and fixed them)

DRM sucks..

Guest said:

The more game companies try to treat paying customers like criminals the more likely they are to turn paying customers into pirates. I have pirated games that I would have other wise bought because of odious DRM. On the other hand I have bought games that I first pirated because after a trial run I decided the game was good enough for the developers to have my money. But pay $60 for a DRM infected piece of crap that I have to have an always on internet connection to play? Never!

Cota Cota said:

I avoid having to use Disk's or scratching them by using alcohol 120%, but i was nailed for almost a month by STEAM, offline mode nailed me pretty nice

Im a heavy pirate, i play them and if they are good i actually buy it via Retailer, steam or Paypal.

Sincerely i dont know what in the heck the big guys have in their heads :\

Guest said:

The only thing relating to DRM that has spoiled my fun is a internet full of whiners about how DRM has spoiled their fun. I still dont know what all the fuss is about. Even the always on internet connection type DRM - why are people complaining? World of Warcraft is one of the most popular PC games of all time; no one complains about always needing an internet connection.

TekGun TekGun said:

Guest said:

World of Warcraft is one of the most popular PC games of all time; no one complains about always needing an internet connection.

Not having played wow so I might be wrong, but I didn't think there was a single player option where you wouldn't need to use the internet.

mrtraver said:

That's because World of Warcraft is AN ONLINE GAME. Most games have a single-player component, so with an always-connected requirement, it is impossible to play those games on a laptop in a place with no internet access, such as Grandma's house.

I don't have a laptop so that has not actually impacted me yet, but what has impacted me directly was when SucuWRONG disagreed with my system like a chilidog that sat on the counter for three days before consumption, and would not let me install Command & Conquer 3 directly from the disc. Ironically, this forced me to copy the contents of the disc to a folder on my hard drive, then run the installation from there.

I don't like having to insert a disc every time I want to play a game, and I especially don't like it when my kids have to, since no matter how careful we are, we WILL scratch or break a disc eventually if it is constantly being moved from a case/sleeve to a drive and back. I don't mind one-time authentication schemes based on a serial key, if I don't have to use the disc any more, as long as I am not limited on how many installations I can do (or at least un-installing a program automatically gives me back an installation chit). I very rarely buy games now unless I have found a working cracked .exe that allows me to skip the disc.

DeliciousPie said:

The Ubisoft DRM is particularly frustrating because the pirated versions DON'T have it! So it only affects people who purchased it legitimately which completely defeats the purpose of it in the first place.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

To stay clear of DRM issues, I prefer to use steam, but IMO most companies are going way overboard with their implementation of DRM.

Guest said:

I miss the option "No, since I started pirating games around 5-6 years ago, and wouldn't even have noticed the difference if customers didn't complain about it the whole time."

slamscaper slamscaper said:

There are a few forms of DRM that I think cross the line, but I definitely have to say that Ubisoft's "always on" DRM is the most ridiculous by far. I will never buy any of their games that contain this insanely unfair DRM.

Ubisoft's DRM has indeed negatively affected my gaming experience, because I really want to play Assassins creed 1/2 on the PC, but as I said I'm not going to buy them with this type of DRM.

Would you still purchase the new Windows OS if it crippled your PC when your internet connection went down? I don't think so. What if Adobe's latest version of Photoshop wouldn't let you edit image files when your connection was down? Would you accept that? Both Microsoft and Adobe have had their software pirated on a mass scale, however they have never resorted to the draconian tactics that Ubisoft has. Yeah, Microsoft's WGA can be a bit annoying, but it's not on the same level as Ubisoft's scheme. Not by a long shot...

Kralnor said:

TomSEA said:

With the exception of Ubisoft's "always connected" DRM which can be a pain (and I no longer buy their products), it's frankly been a non-issue for me. And now with Steam, it's literally invisible.

Game bugs have always caused me more problems than DRM.

Exactly how I feel. Apart from perhaps Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft doesn't really release any titles that I am interested in. That said, I haven't bought anything off them.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I've had DRM issues with the original Crysis. Because it was such a hard game to run I upgraded my rug several times and in doing so, re-installed windows and Crysis over 5 times so therefore it would not install after the fith time. I tried calling EA To no avail, instead I had to speak to someone over a live chat window and after giving him my license key a few dozen times he reset my install limit, but even so, If I reinstall windows another 2 times I'll have to do it again that's why I'm against such DRM systems, although I love steam! Works flawlessly

MikeFE said:

I can understand the need for anti-piracy measures. Piracy affects all honest gamers and should be fought. However, the innocent should not suffer because of the guilty. I have no problem with the way Steam works, but I will not buy single-player games that require you to be online all the time. (I'm not into multiplayer online games, but it's obvious they require you to be online.) I can live with a one time online check, but that should be it.

Games I would have like to buy, but didn't because of their anti-piracy measures include:

Assassin's Creed, BioShock 2, and others.

And for every one who hates DRM and loves Good (old) Games: go to gog.com

(And get The Witcher 2 from there - or other classics - without DRM.)

Guest said:

Steam is pretty much as good as DRM is going to get, Hardware locks just mean you can be locked out of your products if you get a new PC and ubisoft's online DRM is horrible as I have a very intermittent connection to the internet.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

YES it has!! I will never be able to play the original Warcraft again because I don't have the paper to "type the Nth word on Nth line, starting with the letter X."

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm all for protection, but a line has to be drawn somewhere. I personally think it has been taken too far now...it has spoiled my fun at least once, that's for sure.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Well a glitch here and there with Steam and changing hardware...but considering that every other facet of life employs one form or another of 'DRM' ... ID, verification,application, passport, password, proof of ownership, title, notarized, signature, license etc...etc..it really doesn't seem like that big a deal.

...was that subtle enough?

Guest said:

One really bad experience with SecuROM and I have avoided buying games with DRM since. I start by checking specifications to make sure it won't cook my machine. Probably avoided spending close to $1,000 over the last 3-4 years.

Hey, I have games going back 10-15 years which I may still play. About half of them were published by the now defunct. The second problem with DRM is that it has no sunset provision - if you want to play a DRM choked game and 'pubbie' has gone kaput, you will then have to break the law to play it. So, message to the industry - I (like many others) do not buy your DRM choked games.

I think the DRM folks perpetuate ideas of exaggerated losses to mythic levels which the publishers and the government are swallowing too easily. Too bad. I will be a better customer if you resolve my issues: 1- no sunset, 2 - cpu burden, 3 - difficult removal

Ivangela said:

Punkbuster on Battlefield 2 kicks me off the servers all the time so I stopped playing. Won't buy games with it at all...their loss as I'm a paying customer. In fact, I've actually considered piracy instead as I paid $50 for a game I can't play. Maybe I'll torrent Battlefield 3!!!

T77 T77 said:

I haven't played any latest games,but the few that I played which had online validation(crysis warhead,dead space) didn't cause me any major inconvenience.Although some publishers do have that annoying "always on" DRM.So far i haven't played any game with that feature.

foreverzero89 said:

i think instead of companies having the mentality of "what can we do to make the game pirate proof"(of witch there is so such thing) they should instead be thinking "what can we do to turn pirates into paying customers". that would solve the problem of DRM, also piracy AND make them more money.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I had a really bad experience several years ago with DRM (I believe it was in TOCA or TOCA2) where after installing the software and rebooting my machine wouldn't normally boot again. I remember that even Safe Mode had issues and I had to boot into something else in order to clean up that mess. I also had issues when Steam first came out... it was a mess. I'm so happy they've got that fixed and working so well now. I've also purchased a game and had so many issues with the DRM before that I've downloaded a bootleg version that had the DRM removed. Hate to admit it but sometimes the pirates have it easier dealing with some of this software.

superty12 superty12 said:

"I'm just going to play The Sims 3. Why won't it recognize my disc? That's my PS3 disc. I'll go get my PC disc. Wait. Where is my PC disc? Stupid DRM won't let me play without a disc!"

I blame DRM on pirates. If the stuff wasn't downloaded by pirates, then there would be no DRM. I am describing a perfect world.

MrAnderson said:

Mass Effect would not install on my PC because of DRM. The bad thing is I purchased it when it first came out. But I'm one of those that might by things and not play them for months due to my work schedule. I expect my games to just play... when I get them I take them out of the case and put them in a binder with the rest of my library. I recycle the DVD case and packaging. So months later I can do nothing. I check forums and it seemed like EA knew this issue and I could have swarn that someone stated that it was suggested that they repurchase the game that would not install for another system, or purchase a new optical drive. I was floored. Now I don't buy PC games till they have been thurally been reviewed for technical issues and the DRM technology is known. In most cases many publishers have lost me as a customer due to DRM. Ubisoft more recent with their need to tether my single player campaign to Online. I'm a paying customer and I refuse to allow this kind of abuse of power. Untile companies reward us or pay a percentage of my internet bill to use to report back to their servers that I'm still playing my legal copy yet again... they can forget it. Now I purchase their games on consoles when they hit the bargin bin. Or the PC version when it is a bargin and I install it on a older PC that can handle better than current gen graphics... but it is banded from my new PC.

blimp01 said:

The most trouble i've had is with any GWFL game, especially GTA4. right when it came out it wasn't on steam and you only got 5 activations, revoking hardly even worked for me and I found it impossible to transfer securom and gfwl activations over to a new machine, I had to call them a few times to get new keys

Win7Dev said:

I refuse to buy stuff that has all kinds of drm built into it. Why not just download viruses while your at it. It's really annoying when trying to back stuff up and having to find special programs to backup cd's.

Guest said:

I think limited installation DRM has probably caused problems for serious gamers at least once, if it was a game they actually enjoyed. Limiting your installs to as low as 3 times for a game you love is absurd.

Additionally, I know games that require an online activation have resulted in serious frustration for me several times, because the publisher's servers inevitably can't handle the Day-1 traffic.

Ignoring those types, though, I remember when my copy of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising arrived, the DRM (SecuROM, if I recall correctly) wouldn't recognise my dvd drive. I don't know if it was too old or something, but it just flat out refused to install the game. I could get onto the auto-play splash screen, but as soon as I clicked on anything SecuROM popped up with an error about my dvd drive. I know I wasn't alone with this problem.

After a few days of frustration and useless tech support, I simply pirated the game I'd paid for in order to be able to play it. These days I just won't buy games with brutal DRM. Steam's is about the only kind I can stand.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

I haven't faced any issues with DRM simply because I don't buy my games when they're launched. I wait a couple weeks, to let them release any patches or sort out other stuff, before pitching in. Even been able to get it for a little cheaper sometimes.

Ubisoft's first always-on implementation of their DRM was buggy as hell. They've improved it since and it hasn't given me any issues recently.

Guest said:

DRM ruined my life. but atleast, according to laws, you may use a personal-use 'backup' of software in case of failure (AKA DRM) so yeah, after the 3 shitty limited machine activations you just go pirate that ****. i purchased a game, i didn't loan the right to use it!

Guest said:

I am currently attending an online university that uses a eBook reader. Despite the recent change from one eBook reader to another, it has still cause me to go through a lot of headache. The DRM policy for this new company says I can only use the books on two desktops and two mobile devices. I really did not mind this until I was faced with trying to run it on my desktop, laptop and then my laptop died so I needed to get a new one. Then I also needed access because I changed from Windows 7 to Linux, which by the way does not have a client for the computer. Then with the mobile devices, I have my smartphone, my cheap tablet and an old eReader. Well one has to left out of the wash. I understand, it is a blessing that today we can carry around thousands of books in our pocket. But for those who actually bought the product they face restrictions. Constant emails and tech support forum to clear their authorized computers. I also like to use my wife's netbook or her sisters because they are a lot more portable. Can I freely? No...Actually I take that back, yes, I can, just give me five minutes, Google and I can find my content DRM-free on a torrent site.

Kraemepoo said:

The poll should have an "all of the above" option.

Yes, it has spoiled a couple games,

No, I consider it a minor inconvenience most of the time,

and No, I have avoided a few DRM games (Didn't buy Assassin's Creed 2 after reading the fan forums)

So really, I only care about poorly implemented DRM.

Guest said:

@ivangela..Punkbuster is not drm.Punkbuster is an anti cheat program seperate from the game.Dont blame a game, or even punkbuster for your lack of knowledge on how to open your firewall to it.It's your ignorance of pc's that's the problem.

On the subject of is drm annoying me? No, i just don't buy the games that try to take my money and make life difficult.I've been burnt in the past with limited activations and the like and i just torrent those types of games now.I would have willingly paid for them if they were drm free but obviously they are keen to make a pirate out of paying customers.

Renrew Renrew said:

If you hate DRM like I do, vote with your wallet.

Emin3nce said:

DRM is gay. Ruined my fun, ruined my life, terk mah jerb, terk mah woman... DRM is satans ballsack in disguise.

superty12 superty12 said:

If you hate DRM and won't do why they put it there anyways, there is a solution. Buy the console version.

DRM is "digital rights management". Off to find a way to get DRM to be illegal.

UPDATE: Under Title I, secton 103, DRM circumvention for interoperability is protected. You may remove anything related to online DRM, under the law. AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You will be in trouble only ......... if you get caught, until then law is always blind

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The worst experience I have had with anything DRM like is nProtect GameGuard that came with AION. (I dont know if its actually a DRM setup but I know it supposed to stop botting/hacking).

Back during the public beta, I got beta key for AION and was trying to play it over the weekend, but spent most of my time arguing with GameGuard. It kept locking up or not updating correctly so I couldn't even get to the AION launcher - stupid thing by ncsoft that several other MMO's use. The NCSoft launcher didn't want to play nice either half the time.

Other than that I haven't had too much trouble with DRM. TBH a lot of games that have it I have installed then cracked so I don't have to deal with it. Especially EA and Ubisoft games.

I have dealt with a few DRM setups that I didn't even really notice they are there. SC2 isn't intrusive at all and the few Steam games I have played don't really but me at all.

But having constant programs that run just for DRM or anti-hacking/botting usually are what give me all the trouble.

Guest said:

DRM on the game Chaos League caused me major problems. The StarForce protection (which apparently includes some sort of physical modification of the disk) was unreadable by my DVD player. The game was stuck at loading while trying to validate the StarForce copy protection...

Customer support had a way of deactivating this check by asking for proof that your copy was legit and then sending you a personal code. The problem is, this code somehow was not valid anymore after I reinstalled my PC...

Perfect case of screwing the loyal, paying customer. A pirated copy has none of these issues...

Guest said:

While I still use many programs and games that have DRM, I don't have to like it. Like others, I also try to skip those with the more insane forms of DRM, like the crap UbiSoft's doing. I was burnt badly when I couldn't reinstall my $150 video editing software after a clean install of Win7 upgrade. The DRM in question required connecting to their site during install to obtain a new unique activation (based on a supplied key + system info). Because the company was no longer in business, I obviously couldn't connect to get the required activation to happen, and my install wouldn't activate. That's just stupid.

Any form of DRM requiring online verification has the same potential weakness. The only place where I can see this even being tolerable is for something like an MMO game, where you couldn't play anyway if the company is no longer around.

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