It’s been quite a while since I last ranted about digital rights management (DRM) in our news section, so with the recent news that BioShock 2 will pack in SecuROM, what better time could there be to rant some more? I don’t like ranting for the sake of ranting, but I admit, DRM is something that makes my blood boil. It’s not even because it has effected me to a great degree in the past. It’s just the fact that DRM hurts legal customers more than those who just pirate the software, game, music, or what-have-you.
If you’ve been living under a 486/66 and happen to be unsure of what DRM is, the simple explanation is that there is no simple explanation. There are many different forms of DRM, but all are designed to improve the security of the product being sold, so that it won’t be pirated so much. It also helps these major developers make sure that their legal customers aren’t sharing copies of their games. Both of these reasons are of course bogus. DRM has -never- stopped a game or any other piece of software from being pirated. Most often, pirated versions of the games are made available on torrent sites before the game’s actual release. So, exactly how is DRM successful?
It’s not, and most often, as I mentioned, it hurts the legal customers more than those who just want to pirate it. After all, those pirates will just download the game and apply a crack, while the legal customers have to jump through loopholes in order to remain legal. That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? I admit that DRM hasn’t been much of a problem for me, but I use cracks for a lot of my software, which helps me avoid potential issue. It might seem odd that I admit to using cracks, but I don’t use a single piece of pirated software, and have boxes/receipts to prove ownership, so I’m not too concerned. The fact is, cracking your software rids big headaches down the road.
Take for example an incident I dealt with in late 2008. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky was just released, and it promised to be the first good DirectX 10 title. So, I eagerly purchased a copy of the game on Steam, and got to benchmarking it for our content. Little did I realize at the time, but that game featured a five-time activation limit, and it wasn’t on a per-PC basis, but could be activated if you swap hardware. Of course, since I was using the game for benchmarking that’s just what I did, and as I installed the sixth GPU of the evening, the game was rendered inoperable.
It seems like I’m ranting about the past, and I guess I am, but the fact is, DRM is junk, and doesn’t work. It hurts the legal customers who are making these developers successful. The reason BioShock 2’s usage of DRM surprises me, is that because well over two years ago, I reported that the original BioShock was using SecuROM as well. And believe it or not, BioShock 2 is even worse, because with the original, there was no activation limit. There is in BioShock 2… 5 times, just like the above-mentioned Clear Sky.
The odd thing, is that I feel a little odd for complaining, because it seems like consumers aren’t doing quite enough to show these companies that DRM is not alright. I’m all for protections that don’t affect the consumer, because sure, it’d be stupid to make it easier to crack a game. But to use methods that might actually lock out a gamer from their legally-purchased game… it makes no sense. I sound like a broken record, but that fact should be immediately clear since piracy is at its absolute worst. DRM is useless.