It appears the folks at Electronic Arts are doing everything they can to ensure I never purchase one of their PC games again. Word over on the official support forums for Command and Conquer says that the upcoming Red Alert 3, a sequel to my all-time favorite RTS, will use a slightly more lenient SecuROM DRM scheme:
I’ve been hearing your concerns about the DRM situation and wanted to get back to you with some information about our plans. In the case of Red Alert 3 (and all PC titles coming out of EA), we will use SecuROM – the same copy protection that the EALA RTS group has used on our last three titles. This time around, however, the copy protection will be configured to be more lenient than we’ve supported in the past.
I know this can be somewhat of a polarizing topic, and I thought it would be best to open the lines of communication with some facts:
– We will authenticate your game online when you install and launch it the first time.
– We will never re-authenticate an installation online after the first launch. In other words, no reaching out to a central server post-install to see if you’re “allowed” to play.
– You will be able to install and play on up to five computers.
– This system means you don’t have to play with the disc in your computer. Personally, I think this is a huge improvement over our previous copy protection requirements, which have always required a disk to play.
– Life happens. I know it’s unlikely, but for those unlucky few who install the game and have their machines nuked (virus, OS reinstall, major hardware upgrade, etc.) five times, EA Customer Service will be on hand to supply any additional authorizations that are warranted. This will be done on a case-by-case basis by contacting customer support.
-You can, of course, play offline without impediment or penalty.
Red Alert 3 is shaping up to be a world-class RTS game that will give you many hours of enjoyment. I think it would be a shame if people decided to not play a great game simply because it came with DRM, but I understand that this is a very personal decision for many of you and I respect that. As you might imagine, I’m a lot less respectful of those people who take the position that they will illegally download a game simply because it has DRM.
Either way, we’ re very proud of the hard work our team has put into this game and we hope you will all enjoy it when it launches.
I’m so not happy. So not happy that I took the time to leave the following comment on that thread:
- I’m a 41 year old gamer who has bought numerous titles from Electronic Arts all the way back to the original Archon on the Commodore Amiga back when EA was just a small company run by Trip Hawkins. That was back in 1982 and I was 15 at the time. In the 26 years since I’ve spent countless thousands of dollars on EA games for the Amiga, PC, and various consoles. I’ve watched over the years as the copy protection became more and more intrusive while doing nothing to actually stop the pirates, but the games were good and the copy protection not much more than an annoyance so I spent the money and enjoyed myself. It’s safe to say that I’m a long-standing fan of EA and many of the titles they’ve put out. Red Alert and its sequel remain two of my all-time favorite RTS games and I was eagerly looking forward to playing the latest installment when it is released.
Electronic Arts, however, has decided to reward my (literally) decades-long loyalty by making use of one of the more problematic DRM systems available. These days I make my living as a PC support specialist and there are various legitimate programs, such as Process Explorer, which may or may not run properly if I have SecuROM installed on my systems. SecuROM said this was an attempt to stop people from hacking their DRM system, but considering that Spore was cracked and on the Bittorrent sites almost a week before its release it doesn’t seem to be stopping the hackers. In fact the only people being inconvenienced by this DRM system are legitimate customers who have paid for the software. You’ve already admitted that even if it works fine without conflict for the vast majority of your customers there’s still likely to be a subsection who run into problems. I believe you called that “Life Happens” in your original post. What a great attitude to take with your paying customers. It was enough to get me to take the time to register an account just so I could let you know how I feel about it.
I’m done being treated like a criminal in order to use the software I’ve paid for. I did not purchase Bioshock despite being a fan of the original System Shocks because of SecuROM, I did not purchase Mass Effect for the same reason, I also haven’t purchase Spore in spite of following its development since its announcement, and I won’t be purchasing Red Alert 3 for the same reasons. I don’t care how many copies you allow me to install before I need to call your support line. I’m testing software and OS installs all the time which means I’m restaging my PC on a regular basis which means it won’t be long before I have to start calling and explaining why I need a 5th, 6th, 7th… 20th reinstall to some poor sap on the phone. Meanwhile Joe Pirate Boy is able to enjoy his copy as much as he wants and reinstall it as much as he wants without having to call anyone.
There are three of us in my family who were dieing to play Spore so much so that we would’ve spent $150 for three copies of the game just so we wouldn’t have to wait for one person to stop playing before someone else could start, but now its not going to happen. I still play my copy of Red Alert 2 some eight years after it was released and it still installs just fine without any need for an Internet connection or calling someone up on the phone. Will I be able to do that with Red Alert 3 in 8 years? Will you still have registration servers running for it and someone sitting by a phone ready to grant me my 130th install? Will you release a patch at some point that removes the DRM so that nonsense won’t be necessary?
In summary: Explain to me why I should spend $50 just so I can be treated like a criminal?
Every now and then some PC developer goes on a rant about how piracy is destroying PC gaming. I say what’s destroying PC gaming is the bullshit DRM schemes. While they whine about how some game they just released has been cracked and downloaded some 10,000 times being the loss of 10,000 sales (which isn’t entirely true) they manage to overlook the loss of sales from people like me who are sick of the pirates having the hassle free version of the game. If the reaction to Spore is any indication then people are starting to get fed up and the publishers risk alienating the few people who are buying their software.