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DRM Shuts Down PC Version of Gears of War 598

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-know-what-really-grinds-my-gears dept.
carlmenezes writes "It seems that the DRM on the PC version of Gears of War came with a built-in shut-off date; the digital certificate for the game was only good until January 28, 2009. Now, the game fails to work unless you adjust your system's clock. What is Epic's response? 'We're working on it.'"
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DRM Shuts Down PC Version of Gears of War

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  • by bar-agent (698856) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:00AM (#26663191)

    This Frist Post is only available through Jan 29, at which point the certificate expires and the Frist Prost will no longer appear first in the comments.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, this is an epic fail...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mooga (789849)
      More proof that DRM is EXCELLENT and NEVER HURTS THE CONSUMER! I'm waiting for EA to release a game which is only playable for 3 days after release. After all, after 3 days we can buy ANOTHER crippled DRM game!
      • by MrHanky (141717) on Friday January 30, 2009 @06:13AM (#26664203) Homepage Journal

        How the hell is a first post proof of that?

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday January 30, 2009 @09:39AM (#26665333) Homepage Journal

        More proof that DRM is EXCELLENT

        Who wants to take bets on who fixes the Gears of War problem first, Electronic Arts or REL0ADED?

  • HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:01AM (#26663193) Journal

    See, the catch22 with DRM is, it's fine until it interferes with your gaming - and then it's gone too far.

    Most DRM seems "fine" until the day you realize it has crossed the line. :P

    And lately it seems just about all DRM is like that.

    • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PaganRitual (551879) <splagaNO@SPAMinternode.on.net> on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:50AM (#26663465)

      I'll get flamebaited for this but I had the exact same experience with Steam. It seemed like a great idea, but then I lost internet for a week, and Steam started up, told me it couldn't find an internet connection and click this button to start in Offline mode, at which point it told me that it couldn't start Offline mode because it couldn't connect to the server.

      I've since started purchasing disc copies of the games I've already had the misfortune of getting from Steam when I can find them cheap and I don't bother with seeing anything else that is available.

      It always amazes me that Steam is heralded as the future of PC gaming at the same time as everyone bitching about DRM, which Steam is just the same as the rest, it's just that Steam is blatant about it's constant need to authenticate, except of course when you put it in Offline mode and you get a period of unobtrusive gaming. Until next time it decides you're a pirate and needs to authenticate everything.

      • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dangitman (862676) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:09AM (#26663571)

        I've since started purchasing disc copies of the games I've already had the misfortune of getting from Steam when I can find them cheap and I don't bother with seeing anything else that is available.

        So, you've rewarded companies for including DRM. If they didn't put DRM in, they would have only sold one copy to you. Why didn't you just contact Steam technical support?

        • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:33AM (#26663709)

          Why wouldn't he just pirate the games?

          • by it0 (567968) on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:57AM (#26664673)

            Because he didn't have a internet connection!

        • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:4, Informative)

          by PaganRitual (551879) <splagaNO@SPAMinternode.on.net> on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:49AM (#26663805)

          Why didn't you just contact Steam technical support?

          Yeah, I'm basically paying twice for my mistake, and because of DRM, but hey, this is why DRM sucks. It's not that much different from Far Cry 2 hitting 5 unique installs and telling you that you can't install it anymore, except there is no workaround when I have no internet connection.

          What are Steam tech support going to do for me over the phone when I don't have an internet connection? Provide me with a way to force Steam into Offline mode when it doesn't want to, i.e. a way of avoiding the DRM? Unlikely.

          To be honest, the entire experience was a wake up call, and as I said, I'm in the process of reverting my mistaken Steam purchases into disc copies, at which point I'll probably remove Steam altogether and be done with it. If it ever becomes so big that a game can only be purchased on Steam, then I suppose I'll have to give in. But when that happens, the DRM has won, and it will be too late anyway.

          • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Interesting)

            by iNaya (1049686) on Friday January 30, 2009 @05:14AM (#26663933)
            Seeing as you already paid for the games, wouldn't it be within your rights to pay a friend to download a pirated version of the games you already own for you?
          • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jimicus (737525) on Friday January 30, 2009 @05:50AM (#26664099)

            At the risk of being modified flamebait, the DRM has already won.

            You've bought the product once on Steam, found it doesn't work and rather than contacting the publisher to say "Either it works or I don't buy any more", you've gone out to buy it on DVD instead.

            The free market theory doesn't work very well when the customer's reaction to being screwed over is to go back and ask for more.

            • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

              by jlarocco (851450) on Friday January 30, 2009 @06:59AM (#26664379) Homepage

              The free market theory doesn't work very well when the customer's reaction to being screwed over is to go back and ask for more.

              That's just FUD.

              "Free market theory" is that buying and selling takes places voluntarily between two rational parties, both of whom agree to the terms of the deal. If he thinks he's getting shafted, but keeps buying the games anyway, then it's nobody's fault but his own. If he doesn't think the game is worth buying a second time, then he simply shouldn't buy it. The fact that he does buy it is not the fault of the video game companies, and it's not a problem with the free market.

              • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @08:47AM (#26664959)

                > "Free market theory" is that buying and selling takes places voluntarily between two rational parties, both of whom agree to the terms of the deal. If he thinks he's getting shafted, but keeps buying the games anyway, then it's nobody's fault but his own.

                I've highlighted the part of free market theory which has failed to help you out. Knowingly allowing people to screw you out of more money is decidedly NOT "rational" from an economic standpoint. In fact, it is very directly in conflict with the behavior economists expect from a rational person, so much so that it cannot be reconciled with it.

                Yes, the situation is all his fault. But it proves that these transactions violate the presumptions (and therefore, will not follow the predictions) of free market theory. Given that it violates the axioms you've put forth, it would be quite unreasonable to expect free market theory to hold.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Red Flayer (890720)
                  That's horseshit.

                  If he thinks he is getting shafted, but buys the game anyway, then he is factoring in the "shaftage" as part of the price he's paying.

                  This doesn't contravene rational thought, nor does it contravene a free market.

                  He values being able to play the game high enough that he is willing to pay for it twice. That does not mean it is an irrational action.
              • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

                by langelgjm (860756) on Friday January 30, 2009 @08:47AM (#26664969) Journal

                "Free market theory" is that buying and selling takes places voluntarily between two rational parties, both of whom agree to the terms of the deal.

                The problem is that when you introduce DRM, "the terms of the deal" aren't always obvious or disclosed.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Bob9113 (14996)

                "Free market theory" is that buying and selling takes places voluntarily between two rational parties, both of whom agree to the terms of the deal. If he thinks he's getting shafted, but keeps buying the games anyway, then it's nobody's fault but his own. If he doesn't think the game is worth buying a second time, then he simply shouldn't buy it. The fact that he does buy it is not the fault of the video game companies, and it's not a problem with the free market.

                Ooooo - interesting angle. Since both partie

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Lonewolf666 (259450)

            If it ever becomes so big that a game can only be purchased on Steam, then I suppose I'll have to give in. But when that happens, the DRM has won, and it will be too late anyway.

            Since a few years, Valve games always require a Steam account and "authenticate" online even if you buy them on DVD. So it can still happen to you that your game suddenly refuses to work.

            My consequence is to be very reluctant buying their stuff:
            I got Day Of Defeat:Source because my friends also play it, but so far this is my only St

          • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

            by xlsior (524145) on Friday January 30, 2009 @06:15AM (#26664207) Homepage
            What are Steam tech support going to do for me over the phone when I don't have an internet connection? Provide me with a way to force Steam into Offline mode when it doesn't want to, i.e. a way of avoiding the DRM? Unlikely

            Even if you know that they won't be able to do anything about it -- each and every phonecall by a paying customer complaining that their program screwed up, is one more chance that they suits notice that things aren't working smoothly. Over time, this can lead to changes such as extending the grace periods if nothing else.

            If you don't TELL that things didn't work and that you're annoyed, then things will never change.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by danieltdp (1287734)

        A friend of mine gave me his HL2 disks 'cause he didn't like the game (crazy guy...). Only then I realized that it is not possible to transfer a key code from one account to another. I contacted steam support and the guy just said I can't be done.

        Steam is the best example of how DRM can hurt you. I got off the hook early (I have only a couple of games from there), but people can spend a lot o money before realizing that some DRM cripples your freedom to do whatever you want with your copy of the game.

        I,

      • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @09:00AM (#26665041)

        You can make a backup of ClientRegistry.blob [ttlg.com] in the Steam folder to restore Offline use of Steam:

        1. Log in to Stream, making sure that "store account details on this computer" is active
        2. Exit Steam. Do not log out, just exit
        3. Make a copy of the ClientRegistry.blob file in the Steam folder
        4. Start Steam without an Internet connection, it should ask you if you'd like offline mode
        5. If Steam decides that it doesn't want to start in offline mode anymore, copy the ClientRegistry.blob file that you have backed up back into the Steam folder

        Sort of a pain, but once it's working it's not so bad. I agree that nobody should have to do this to play the games that they bought.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bit01 (644603)

        It always amazes me that Steam is heralded as the future of PC gaming

        Most are probably astroturfing marketing lowlifes. They lie through their teeth saying how "wonderful" it is.

        There's many vested interests trying to get consumers to accept DRM rather than realizing what a scam it is.

        ---

        Anonymous company communication is unethical and can and should be highly illegal. Company legal structures require accountability.

  • Idiotic Design (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:08AM (#26663229) Journal

    A proper DRM system would obtain date and time information from a known valid source.

  • by GrpA (691294) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:08AM (#26663233)

    What needs to happen is for everyone with a copy of this to take the disk back as faulty. Most consumer laws support this action.

    My son's version of Oblivion (I think it was Oblivion) failed to install after he upgraded his PC five times and they refused to give him another code...

    So we took it back to EB and demanded a refund (faulty product) which we were entitled to do. If you can't play a game, it's not of merchantable quality.

    Looks like we'll be visiting them once more with a copy of GOW for a full refund :(

    Perhaps if everyone did this, we'd see DRM take on a more practical appearance like a USB dongle - or even the entire game on a USB dongle - and without time limits or requiring web authentication.

    GrpA

    • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:13AM (#26663257) Homepage

      We could call it a "cartridge", and we could call the device it plugs into a "game console".

      What a novel idea.

    • by jsse (254124) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:30AM (#26663347) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps if everyone did this, we'd see DRM take on a more practical appearance like a USB dongle - or even the entire game on a USB dongle - and without time limits or requiring web authentication.

      This approach is too customer-friendly for them to consider. The mission of DRM is more than destroying piracy, it means to destroying second-hand game market and cross-boundary water-goods trade as well.

      The era of customer-oriented marketing strategy has long gone. Nowaday, all customers are treated as criminals and pirates. Face it man. ARRRR!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Psychotria (953670)

        How the hell is a USB dongle for a game "customer-friendly"? Actually, how is a USB dongle for any piece of software customer-friendly?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by GrpA (691294)

          When it comes with the game/software install files on it :)

          GrpA

        • by jsse (254124) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:51AM (#26663471) Homepage Journal

          How the hell is a USB dongle for a game "customer-friendly"? Actually, how is a USB dongle for any piece of software customer-friendly?

          With a plug-n-play dongle: you don't need to install; you don't need to web-register prior to playing; you can ebay it when you get bored with it...(the list could go on but I think I shouldn't do all the thinking myself. :)

          If you don't find those anti-piracy measures in recent games annoying, you probably haven't been using a paid copy of game for the past few years. ^^

    • by PaganRitual (551879) <splagaNO@SPAMinternode.on.net> on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:36AM (#26663391)

      Oblivion has no such retarded online authentication. By all means we should dump on the games that treat paying customers as pirates but be careful to make sure you criticize the correctly guilty parties.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:28AM (#26663687)

      Such a thing does exist in the pro audio world. The most popular is called the iLok from PACE Antipiracy. It is a little USB dongle that you hook to your computer. It then stores licenses for your audio software, over 100, from multiple vendors. When you buy software it either comes with a code, or a SIM chip that is the license, and you transfer that over to their key.

      Ok great right? Well not really. The first thing is that it isn't cheap, to either the people implementing it or to you. It has a fairly high per unit cost, which of course the vendors pass on to you. However for you there's a direct cost too. You have to buy the dongle. They are $50 each. It works in the pro world, since $50 isn't a big deal if you are already spending $1000 on a virtual instrument, but you'd find it rather a turn off for gamers. Yes you only need one to hold many licenses, but $50 is still a lot when you are talking games.

      Then there's just the implementation problems. You go and do some searches online, you'll find lots of people have lots of problems with the iLok. It is trying to do tricky shit, and that causes problems. For some it works great, however for many it is a ton of headaches.

      The question also becomes what happens if you lose the iLok? Some companies are good about it, and will authorize PACE to send new licenses to your new iLok. However many are paranoid since you could always "lose" your iLok to a friend and get a new one and then get more licenses for free. So some companies refuse to give you new licenses, you have to buy them all over. Well, that means a single dongle can have a whole lot of money worth of licenses stored on it. You get in a situation in games where someone nicks your dongle at a LAN party and you are out $1000 in games.

      Used sales are also a problem. Companies don't like for you to sell their games used. They'd much rather everyone has to buy a copy. With a dongle, they can enforce this easier. While they certainly could make a mechanism for you to transfer licenses, they wouldn't have to. If they didn't, well you are SOL. You'd either have to sell ALL you games at the same time, along with the dongle, or buy a dongle per game, which would be expensive and inconvenient.

      Now after all that, the question is ok, but is it useful? Answer? Not really. iLok protected apps are cracked all the time. So you can go through all this trouble and people can STILL crack your shit and release it on the Internet. The fact that you use physical hardware doesn't help. The dongle only really can do two things:

      1) Provides authorization. Here the program checks with the dongle to see if it is allowed to run. It's a handshake sort of thing, and often uses good crypto... But what happens if you simply remove the jump to the code that checks? The program never goes and looks for a license and just runs, thus the dongle is bypassed.

      2) Has a decryption key for the program. The program itself is encrypted, and a loader goes, checks the dongle, gets the key, and decrypts it to run. Ok great, except then all you do is go and dump the decrypted program from memory and use that, or intercept the key and use it on an emulated dongle.

      Regardless, the dongle can't do anything that can stop this kind of thing. The crackers simply strip out all the calls to it and then they've got an app that runs without it. Or they make a virtual dongle that sends all the proper responses. Or they hack the dongle's drivers. Whatever is easier.

      The real answer, I think, is for companies to realize people will copy their software, but it just isn't a big deal. It happens, get over it. Don't hurt your legit customers because of it. There are some pro audio companies who have dumped iLok and they report they've seen no decrease in sales. Personally, I'm not surprised. The people who download their apps aren't likely to pay for them in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jimicus (737525)

      Very true, but many companies are starting to take a rather different approach.

      The store manager is someone relatively young who's probably either fresh out of college or worked there for a couple of years since leaving school. Their power is very limited - they have it drilled into their head that THIS is company policy, and deviation from it is a sackable offence.

      Needless to say, "company policy" conveniently forgets to mention anything about consumer retail law. Unless the consumer is prepared for an a

  • This is more evidence that DRM hurts the honest consumer.

    As we all know, the pirates wait for the DRM-free... "collectors edition" release on The Pirate Bay.

    Why do people continue doing it? Did they start when the economy was in a healthy growth period and then think "more DRM, more economic growth for us, it must obviously be causal".

    (now there's a good application of "correlation is not causation" for you)

  • The fix is what?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by teslar (706653) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:34AM (#26663369)

    Now, the game fails to work unless you adjust your system's clock

    Now not only is the game broken due to a broken DRM implementation, but even the logic behind the DRM is broken since it at least this part can be circumvented by adjusting the system clock (!!). What was the point of even bothering with this then?

    Although, actually, wouldn't this now make changing your system time an offence under the DCMA?

    I never thought I'd post those two words together in one sentence, but yeah.... epic fail.

  • by boogerme0 (1151469) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:36AM (#26663395)
    DRM does it again. Does this mean consumers who've been affected by this can sue? After all, Epic did technically violate an inherent contract in the buying and selling of video games: consumers give money to a company in order to play the video game (permanently). Since the consumers essentially do not have their game anymore, they paid for nothing more than a rental. It's akin to selling your car, then taking it back a few weeks later and pocketing the money you stole, er, made. At least they should be giving a full refund to the affected consumers.
  • Not DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:41AM (#26663409) Homepage
    It's not DRM. It's cheat prevention. Big difference.
  • by spottedkangaroo (451692) * on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:24AM (#26664481) Homepage

    The hilarious part is that it only froze up on the people that paid to have DRM installed on their machines. The stolen copies are just fine I'm sure.

    I think the secret is, if you really really want to give them your money: buy a copy, never open it, and install a stolen version.

    I have two copies of Titan's Quest (never opened), a copy of Flatout 2 (never opened), two copies of NWN2 (no), a copy of Jedi Outcast (no), Jedi Academy (no)...

    Mostly it isn't even the DRM, simply having to even put the CD in is an unnecessary hardship. Why should I be inconvenienced because I bought it and the people who stole it get the good copy?

    I think it's time the stop treating customers like shit and I say so on my registration cards. Fat lot of good it's done.

  • My Reponse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Karem Lore (649920) on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:27AM (#26664499)
    Epic's repsonse may be "Working on it"

    My response is http://gamecopyworld.com/ [gamecopyworld.com]

  • Another act (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meist3r (1061628) on Friday January 30, 2009 @08:59AM (#26665035)
    In the grand scheme to make PC gaming the most miserable experience there is. Casual pirates love the PC, it's easy, fast and pretty reliable. Consoles ... not so much. That's why they build their PC versions (or worse-ions) of well selling console titles so poorly that anyone will consider buying an Xbox before they think about PC gaming again.

    I said it before [slashdot.org] and at times, I will have to say it again.
  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Friday January 30, 2009 @09:21AM (#26665175)
    Just kill all of the legitimate copies and anyone else who's left is a pirate. Why didn't the RIAA figure this out first? =)

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