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EA Denies DRM Problems With Sims 2 188

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the typical-mmo-company-response dept.
Fizzlefist writes "For the past 2 weeks there has been an uproar on the Sims 2 forums concerning the inclusion of Sony's SecuROM DRM software in the latest expansion pack, Bon Voyage. It seems paid customers have been having problems since day one of release, but EA is only now, 5 weeks later, issuing an official statement on the matter. A lot of what's in the statement is outright fiction with proven reports of issues with disabling of disc burning software, optical disc drives, printers, cameras, system slowdown and even system crashes. Fan responses have been cold to say the least. Interestingly enough, the expansion pack was cracked and up on the internet less than 24 hours after its release."
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EA Denies DRM Problems With Sims 2

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2007 @12:26AM (#20963375)
    It also sound that there is a lot of bashing here:

    "But of those 7,122 messages we can track, 2,976 have been authored by just 32 individuals (41.8 %). Each of these individuals has posted more than 40 times on the subject."

    "Since that team was set up 2 weeks ago, we received only 12 calls to EA's North American Support Center from players looking for help with their PC's, suspecting a conflict with SecuROM. Sony DADC received just 29 calls about The Sims 2 Bon Voyage and SecuROM."

    I didn't really notice an outright denial in the "offical statement". I read that 'problems happen' and if you want it fixed you need to call support.

    Looking at the replies and the response, it 'sounds' like they want to help:

    quote:
    Guys-

    If you really want to make a difference, you need to file a support ticket with Customer Support to explain what is going wrong with your PC and try to get help. Those numbers about the few number of calls to Support are not made up. I looked them up myself. There's just not enough people calling to cause change. We've received 4 times more calls with people with flashing red walls than any of the PC destruction calls about SecuROM. (and, btw, about those walls...don't forget to update your video card driver).

    We want you to call. I want you to call. I work on the team that makes the game. The last thing we want to do is to make you unhappy.

    To get support, follow the instructions in MaxoidVanquish's post above. The thread is here:

    http://bbs.thesims2.ea.com/community/bbs/messages.php?threadID=c7bc28ba7df0b19335a3d8edb3ec9919&directoryID=211&startRow=1&openItemID=item.211,root.1,item.61,item.104,item.41,item.127,item.23 [ea.com]

    If you create a support ticket and don't get the help you need, I want you to do this: send me a note in my SimPage guestbook. Click on "View My Sim Page" right above my post and you'll find my guestbook. Tell me what happened, and if you can, cite the Incident Number you were given so a supervisor can track what happened on your case (those numbers look something like 123456-789012. Write it down when the support person gives it to you). Also please give me your email or phone number and a good time when you can be reached, so a support supervisor can get back to you.

    unquote

    And to the thought of "interestingly enough, the expansion pack was cracked and up on the internet less than 24 hours after it's release."

    I wonder just how many of the folks that 'cracked' the pack are having the problems and are bitching?

    Of course I could be wrong and DRM could just be the cause of global warming.
    • I agree with pretty much everything you said (despite my dislike for EA as the life-sucking vampire of the game industry, You made battlefield '42! Where's the good games EA!?). The one part I draw question to is your final question, it's much more likely that the problems stem from the DRM rather than the DRM-free versions for the simple reason that extra code tends to add extra problems. Cracker's are very good at what they do* and it's unlikely that anyone grabbing one of the cracked games would have the types of problems they're having, and would report it to EA ('What's that? You're having problems? Well lets just check your CD Key...oh what's this? Cracked version, BANNINATION).

      I mean, cracking is by no means perfect, and is illegal to boot, but tends to produce higher quality products than the un-cracked versions, one of the big DRM criticisms (and my personal favorite, people don't seem to understand that they could run their favorite programs without the CD if there was no DRM, they seem to think there's some kind of hardware issue that requires the CD, or that it's too much data to write to the hard drive (sometimes the case for the new DVD games).

      *I've more than once considered grabbing cracked versions of games I own, mainly so I can run them without the CD...I'm considering getting a cracked BF 1942 as I lost 1 disk, have the other and the key, and can't do anything about it :(
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2007 @02:04AM (#20963791)
        Wow. That takes me back to the old days of EA software on the Commodore 64. Games like M.U.L.E., Archon, Pinball Construction Set, etc.

        I used to buy all of EA's games, but they had the most annoyingly long load times from floppy. These were slow 5 1/4" drives, and we were used to the very long cassette load times from previous years, so taking more than 15 minutes to load a game was bad, but not unexpected. I can still see that color changing EA logo on the screen and hear the weird clicking of the drive.

        But then I found cracked copies. Broken versions of the same games that loaded in a minute or two rather than 15 to 30. No copy protection. Those weird clicks? That was a non-standard kludge of a DOS thrashing around looking for the proper keys. EA punished their paying customers to such an extent even all those years ago.

        I still bought their games, but then found the broken versions to actually use. The broken copies were better.
        • by Fallingcow (213461) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @04:07AM (#20964175) Homepage

          I used to buy all of EA's games, but they had the most annoyingly long load times from floppy.


          Nothing's changed. Sims 1 and Sims 2 each looked about 5 years behind their times graphically when they came out (ESPECIALLY Sims 1) but on a modern machine either one will take about 3-5 minutes to load the game, and another 2-3 minutes any time you change areas. It's ridiculous. IMO, the things are damn-near unplayable.
          • Did you read the rest of his comment? The reason old EA games took so long to load was copy protection. The reason new EA games take so long to load is bloatware, and in some cases, the three or four screens of ads, copyright notices, logos, etc.
      • by Bo'Bob'O (95398) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @03:50AM (#20964115)
        I highly recommend you check out Demon Tools: just download the image from your favorite torrent, or rip it with another program, and be done with CD requirements. I buy a game, rip it to my drive, and put the disk safely away on my shelf never to be seen again. Plus not having to worry about which versions of a game are 'cracked' and keeping up with hacks is worth the few extra bucks in hard drive space.

        If you do any sort of laptop gaming in down time on the road, or the occasional LAN party or such, I can't imagine being without it anymore.

        It does install some sort of crap ware if you get the free version, but since I don't use IE, it doesn't much bother me, and you can just buy it and avoid that trouble, anyway.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Robotz (451860)
          The IE search bar software that comes with the free version Demon Tools is optional. You do get the choice of selecting to not install it.
        • by antdude (79039)
          And some games hate these Demon Tools. They refuse to install and/or run if they exist. I remember DOOM 3, C&C3, etc. did that because I had old Alcohol datas in my registry (uninstalled long ago too!).
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Harik (4023)
            Again, which is why you get a cracked copy of said games. "Sorry I won't share a computer with that _OTHER_ software" is bullshit. I don't know what the hell they're trying to do, either - I installed the cracked version of C&C3 via daemon tools. Most of these are cracked AND out on the net before release day - hell, you can finish games before you can legitimately buy them. Seriously, what are these clowns thinking - why the fuck would I pay money to infest my system with crippling viruses? W
            • by antdude (79039)
              There's only one problem with that. Multiplayer games that check for tampered datas. I remember using cracks/noCD/noDVD patches for games like Battlefield, and I get kicked off because of modified files. :(
        • by juventasone (517959) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @09:16PM (#20970199)
          There's a much better way of doing this. Game Jackal [slysoft.com] (from the people who make CloneCD) is way easier to use and doesn't require you to store entire cd/dvd images on your hard drive, nor have virtual drive letters, nor temporarily remove registry keys to hide it's existence from copy protection. It's dedicated purely to allowing you to start your legitimately purchased games without a disc.
          • by ricotest (807136)
            Or you could save the money and just use Daemon Tools and crack your games (assuming they even need cracks - plenty of games, especially in their later patch cycles, forego this arcane restriction). Once you crack the game you can freely delete the CD/DVD image and shut off D-Tools, oh, and I have never had to mess with the registry.
        • by Khyber (864651)
          STALKER doesn't work with Daemon Tools (either 32-bit or x64 versions) even after a direct bit for bit copy and all emulation options turned on. It pisses me off to no end.
      • by Zemran (3101)
        I would never buy a game or upgrade to a version that there is not a crack for. I do not begrudge game developers their income but I do begrudge them any rights to my machine or how I use their art. I do not want to have to suffer any DRM crap or even have to insert the disk each time I use a game. I 100% support the crackers and trust their work as much as I trust the game developers.
      • by rbarreira (836272) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @08:02AM (#20964939) Homepage

        You made battlefield '42!

        Nope, they published it! At that time, DICE was not owned by EA yet (they bought them later, EA style).
      • it's unlikely that anyone grabbing one of the cracked games would have the types of problems they're having, and would report it to EA ('What's that? You're having problems? Well lets just check your CD Key...oh what's this? Cracked version, BANNINATION).

        You'd still use your CD key if prompted to run a cracked version, if your only real interest was 'not wanting to insert CD' - I can completely appreciate that pain. If you're running with a warezed key? You'll forgive me if I give slightly less than two s

    • An EA Astroturf? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How can a call to EA fix a crashed PC? Their help desk does the following:

      1) Is your PC plugged in and turned on?

      2) What version are you on. Yes, that's the latest one.

      3) Run Windows Update.

      4) Do you still have problems?

      Contact your PC manufacturer. It's not our game. All you guys are proving is that it's better to pirate games than pay money to EA.
    • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @01:37AM (#20963703) Journal
      More than likely people who install sims2 do not get the connection with a malfunctioning pc and their game. Instead they might call AOL or Dell and yell at them for a hardware issue.

      Meanwhile EA says only 12 callers were affected?? Great it works then! Lets put it on all games! .. meanwhile Mike from India who works for HP/DELL gets yelled at by the angry consumers.

      This makes me happy I dont do help desk anymore.

    • "If someone was on hold for a long time and hung up, please send me a message with the Incident Number and I'll track down what happened. Thanks.

      I am forwarding incident numbers directly to our senior level SecuROM support people, so there should not be any issues they cannot handle."

    • what's new here? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by v1 (525388) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @09:46AM (#20965409) Homepage Journal
      the expansion pack was cracked and up on the internet less than 24 hours after it's release.

      In other words, the only people having problems as a result of this DRM are... the honest customers.

      So as usual, DRM designed to make the pirates job impossible while not damaging the user experience have the exact opposite result, and the pirates are the only ones with a hassel-free experience, while the paying customers are left to suffer alone in the cold and dark that is Customer Relations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by asuffield (111848)

      We want you to call. I want you to call.

      Have you ever tried calling the support line? It is very apparent to anybody who calls that you do not want them to call. Some mouth-breather wastes 20 minutes of their time reading from a script that clearly does not accept the problem can exist, and you charge the customer for the privilege of this annoyance.

      You've only got 12 calls logged for this reason because all the other people with the problem either had called you before and knew it would be a waste of time,

    • by Stripe7 (571267)
      This should not be news to any support organization. If you have a satisfied customer, you will not hear much of anything, they would be too busy playing. If you have a pissed off customer who paid for something they will broadcast their complaints on every platform that will hear them. You will not hear from your happy customer, but will hear from your unhappy one everyday, and will find that they are screaming all over the internet as well as in your ear about the issues they are having.
  • yep. (Score:3, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @12:27AM (#20963377) Homepage
    For the past 2 weeks there has been an uproar on the Sims 2 forums concerning the inclusion of Sony's SecuROM DRM software

    I think they just transposed the "e" and the "u" in the name of that software. It should read "Suc e ROM".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2007 @12:31AM (#20963401)
    Treat it like a DoS denial of service attack. EA installed malware that denied their customers access to their computers. Could be criminal charges too and a massive class action suit.
    • by DustyShadow (691635) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @02:17AM (#20963843) Homepage
      Whoever modded you down obviously has a motive. This has lawsuit written all over it. And you are correct, if EA is purposely trying to damage your computer, then criminal charges should be filed against them. Intent may not even be required. And for those thinking "yea but it's in the contract/EULA" . . the contract would be immediately voided if it allows illegal activity.

      The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

      "Subsection 1030(a)(5) prohibits transmitting "a program, information, code, or command" that causes damage to a computer system. Those with authority to access the computer are criminally liable only for intentional damage, while those without authority are liable for any damage that they cause.
      . . .
      Penalties under most of the provisions can be up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for a first offense, and up to ten years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine for a second offense. The Act also authorizes the victims of computer crime to maintain a civil action for damages and other equitable relief."
      http://www.brownraysman.com/index.cfm?section=articles&function=ViewArticle&articleID=1393 [brownraysman.com]
  • no patience for this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @12:42AM (#20963461) Homepage Journal
    I was the biggest fan of all the sim stuff for the longest time. I had multiple versions of simcity, simfarm, the sims. That ended when they introduced the need to have the original CD available to run the game. I was used to having the game on my two computers, and play as I wanted to. I know this probably violated so license restrictions, but I don't care. I bought the game to enjoy, and that is the way I wanted to enjoy it. The fact that I paid for the game, and could not play it without keeping up with the CD, was intolerable. When the Sims came with the limitation, that was the last sims I bought. There are is much competition for my money, and if someone is more worried about the people who don't buy that the people who do, that is someone that I have no desire to deal with.
    • It really is the standard procedure these days. Whether you buy the game or not, you have to get the crack to disable the stupid CD check. I own all the games I play (I swear :) and yet they are all cracked because I prefer to keep my CDs securely stored. And then, of course, there is the annoyance of swapping CDs in the first place when you want to play another game. Thank God for alcohol...
  • by Dmala (752610) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @12:57AM (#20963525)
    I work for a software company that prides itself on its lack of intrusive copy protection. Almost a month after the latest release of our flagship product, I am still unable to find it on any torrent or warez site. It almost seems like, without the technical challenge of cracking the protection, the warez d00ds don't even bother, or at least give it a very low priority. I've never heard of any software with intrusive protection that wasn't cracked within 24 hours of release.
    • by icepick72 (834363) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @01:06AM (#20963569)
      Or maybe your company's product is not in high demand.
      • by Dmala (752610) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @01:22AM (#20963653)
        We're a niche market, to be sure, but there's plenty of demand. All of our previous releases did eventually get posted.
      • Maybe, but he's right about why crackers do what they do. Believe me, it's not because they need to use the software they crack, no sir. It's because they get considerable positive reinforcement out of the process of cracking a protection system. It is a true battle of wits.

        Way way back in my Apple ][ days (1978-1981, thereabouts) I cracked a lot of stuff. There were a few standard protection schemes around ... I automated the cracks for those. But the only programs that interested me were the ones that
    • by jonwil (467024) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @01:08AM (#20963583)
      More likely your program is not popular enough to be worth pirating.
      • "More likely your program is not popular enough to be worth pirating."

        Possible, but if he's still there a month later, the odds are good that they are enjoying at least a modest success.
      • by Inda (580031)
        That's rubbish. Hundreds of applications are added to the list of cracked applications daily. Most of them crappy Image Resizing programs and the like.
      • by vertinox (846076)
        More likely your program is not popular enough to be worth pirating.

        Or its so popular among its niche that no one bothers to seed it since they've all bought it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by IronChef (164482)
        Mister Wiggles Magical Adventure in Sugarland II is fucking awesome so shut your mouth.
    • Or possibly your 'flagship' product is in so little demand or so little known it's not worth a crackers time to crack.
    • Splinter Cell chaos theory took months. Starforce was briefly successful on a couple of games. But didn't last in the long run.
  • by MaineCoon (12585) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @02:00AM (#20963779) Homepage
    and that was with Sid Meier's Railroads. I did the Analysis, sent it in to SecuROM, and the next day they sent me a modified binary that would supposedly ignore the specific authentication failure. However, I didnt encounter the issue once I had rebooted, so did not need the modded binary.

    I installed BioShock Demo, which did install SecuROM... uninstalled the demo, and SecuROM was uninstalled with it.

    While I dislike DRM, SecuROM is probably one of the more benign forms. Anyone remember Starforce?
  • by Darundal (891860) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @02:32AM (#20963883) Journal
    ...being in a game. And I am not just talking about Bioshock, either. A bunch of people had issues with SupCom having SecuROM, and when the SupCom community told GPG to get rid of it, they did. With WIC, there was a petition started on the forums that was eventually locked (look http://www.massgate.net/read.php?3,29121,page=1 [massgate.net]). Bunches of other games have had issues with SecuROM as well.
  • by crossmr (957846) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @02:35AM (#20963889) Journal
    The summary failed to cover the moderator who declared martial law banning so many people and locking so many threads that for once EA actually stepped in and publicly turfed them. With diplomatic language but for anyone paying attention it was quite obvious. Essentially anyone who dared post information based on fact that contradicted their opinion of the glorious cosmic orgy that was securom was due for a banning.

    Some might say "The system works". However this moderator had been displaying this behaviour for longer than most people can remember yet EA looked the other way even with user complaints until she finally went off the deep end and banned too many 12 year olds who could dial the customer service line.
  • by Spikeles (972972) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @03:40AM (#20964093)
    You really have to admire how they dance around some of the questions as well as an experienced politican.

    So in perspective, while we'd like to have zero calls, we have received 41 calls on the more than 100,000 copies sold.
    So.. because only a small number have reported the problem, it means there is no problem!

    3) How does SecuROM interact with the Internet? A: Not at all, if you install a game using a CD or DVD. In that case SecuROM comes with the game on the disc. If you download a SecuROM-protected game from the Internet, then you have to use your Internet connection to request a license for the desired application. The communication is a simple request and response to a server used for this purpose. No personal information is collected or stored during this or any SecuROM process.
    Well then. The answer would be "Yes it does connect to the internet"

    8) Is SecuROM harming my computer? A: No. SecuROM does not damage a computer in any way.
    So is that a guarantee that securom will never ever damage my computer ever, even if it had a bug?

    19) How do I remove SecuROM from my machine?.... The registry keys described above in FAQ No. 5 above are not removed by the above uninstall process; otherwise, the copy protection function of SecuROM would be completely undermined. The registry keys, which contain license data, remain on your PC and do not affect any of your PC's functions. This is no different than other commercially available software programs that employ a similar use of registry keys.
    Well then. It's not actually "removed" is it?

    We don't disclose specifically which copy protection or digital rights management system we use --in this case, SecuROM -- because EA typically uses one license agreement for all of its downloadable games, and different EA downloadable games may use different copy protection and digital rights management.
    "We don't tell you what DRM we use because different games use different DRM"?? Can someone please explain that in english?
  • EA..... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IHC Navistar (967161)
    EA has a horrible reputation for Customer Service. It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get a straight answer from anyone, mainly because the process needed to actually get to a human being has been made by EA to be as twisted and complicated as possible.

    EA loves to sweep problems out of sight by telling customers to use their "Knowledge Base", which is pretty much useless as it is, or to "contact" them by filling out a Bug Report/Complaint form, where they say they will "get back to you."

    It took me forever to get th
  • by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @05:45AM (#20964485)
    DRM does not stop "pirates"...it doesn't even slow them down. Quite frequently, cracked pirated verisons are available on the torrent sites before the actual products are released. The ONLY thing DRM does is inconvenience paying customers...you know the ones who actually went out and BOUGHT the product rather than just downloading it from a torrent site. Every time this happens, a fraction of those inconvenienced paying customers will get fed up and start downloading rather than buying. You'd think this is what the publishers wanted, from the way they act. Either that or they're just insane...the definition of insanity being repeating the same action time and time again expecting a different result.
    • by someone1234 (830754) on Saturday October 13, 2007 @06:29AM (#20964633)
      According to the FA, DRM appears to be helping pirates.
      Who wouldn't pay $5 for a working DRM free copy of their favourite game?
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      That's not -quite- true. Every once in a while there's a crack that doesn't quite work right and crashes a critical point in the game, or introduces a bug that didn't exist in the official version. Also, patches have to be cracked as well, and it can be annoying to have to wait for another crack to continue playing.

      But for the most part, DRM causes more issues than the cracks do. NWN, for example, didn't work with some peoples' CD drives. It would crash a few minutes in with no warning because it though
      • Generally, cracks don't crash more frequently than the original.
        Some copy protections tend to fail in certain drives, or more susceptible to wear.
        So, the occasional bad crack, even trojanised releases offset the problem a copy protection may have caused.
    • by IronChef (164482)
      DRM does not stop "pirates"...it doesn't even slow them down. Quite frequently, cracked pirated verisons are available on the torrent sites before the actual products are released. The ONLY thing DRM does is inconvenience paying customers.

      DRM won't stop anyone reading this post, but it CAN stop casual piracy. When your mom can't give a copy of Quicken to her sister, that is a victory for DRM.

      The question is, is the reduction in casual piracy worth irritating or chasing away your more sophisticated users. I
  • I absolutly loved the longest journey, but when dreamfall came out I was too busy to get it, bought it months later, only to find that there were patches out. For some reason, funcom, has split distribution up around the world and the patches only work on certain versions, my version did not have a patch. Not because the game didn't have troubles, but because the distributor apparently hadn't bothered to patch.

    To top it off it also wanted to install a protection system, I don't like those. Apart from every

  • It all looks that all this crap only helps make customer experience worse than it should be, it certainly does not stop pirates.

    I guess I don't have to place any link to prove that Sims2 is getting pirated as heck and this is certainly not stopping the torrents to appear.

    As much as CD protection got heavier these days, I can still go to the street and find the latest games ready for 2$us. (This country is quite special, few got the broadband to download CDs, and pirated software is an street product lik

  • I don't have any such problems. You know why? Because I downloaded the warez version! My girlfriend likes to play the game, but there's no way in Hell that EA is getting $30 every three months for incremental item packs. Besides, those first three expansion packs for the original game should more than make up for it... It's not exactly as if EA is short on cash flow or anything.
  • I crack every game I buy specifically because of issues like this and that annoying lag I see in so many games when every once in a while it's "checking for media".

    Every time I see DRM related problems all I can think is: How can business types be so incredibly stupid? They're obviously not complete dullards as the company is successful. But doesn't anyone ever speak up at board meetings and say "Excuse me, Mr. Pointy Head. You do realize all this R&D is going to go straight down the toilet when some 12

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