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PC Games (Games) Security Entertainment Games Your Rights Online

EA Releases DRM License Deactivation Tool 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the baby-steps dept.
Dr_Barnowl writes "Electronic Arts has posted a SecuROM de-authorization management tool. Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system, and help you download their respective individual de-activation tools. This isn't a perfect solution, since it's still possible to run out of activations in the event of hardware failure or other source of data loss, but since the announcement that this particular DRM system will be dropped for The Sims 3 , it would seem that EA has had a minor epiphany about DRM." I'm sure EA's hand was forced in part by the FTC's recent warning against deceptive DRM practices. Hal Halpin of the Entertainment Consumers Association commented further on the issue, suggesting to developers that such measures need to be displayed on game boxes, and that standardization of EULAs could be next on the list.
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EA Releases DRM License Deactivation Tool

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  • Standardized EULA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by haystor (102186) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:45PM (#27406521)

    Having a standardized EULA would be a bad thing if it were standardized by the government. They'd be unilaterally agreeing to the terms of the EULA, while right now it is unclear if a EULA is even binding at all.

  • by Smidge207 (1278042) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:45PM (#27406531) Journal

    *sigh* Here we go again. Seriously, a code is the most simplistic and effective means of copy protection. One key = one install. Simple as that.

    If you implement measures, that online / LAN multiplay is restricted to valid and unique CD-keys and executables cannot be cracked easily is one of the most reasonable methods to balance between players and publishers available.

    It serves the following purposes:
    - prevent non-paying customers from using unpaid-for online servers
    - (inofficially) let people (via keygens) rather freely test-drive the full software, offline on their own machine with the option to buy a key and make your installation legit and online-enabled in seconds.
    - ban detected cheaters from online play and introduce a financial risk to cheating (you have to buy a new key when you're caught) which deters non-hardcore cheaters from trying
    - prevent mass copying of your software: if the same key is encountered online in the thousands, disable the key
    - all this encourages defined and responsible ownership of the software: if you give out your key, you possibly cannot play online anymore

    - and inofficially: limit the resale-value of a used key: as a buyer, you cannot be sure if the key is not banned for cheating or shared with the entire school/workplace of the reseller.

    I don't know of people who been hindered from doing legit things with their paid-for software because of a cd-key. But I know several people who "test-drove" dozens of pirated games with a keygen who found out the game was so crappy that even downloading it was a waste of money and time.

    =Smidge=

    • I'm working on a title that has no multiplayer component because it makes no sense for the game. How do you propose to address this issue for single-player games? I'm open to reasonable solutions--I do not expect piracy to stop because of any methods I can do, I'm just attempting to dissuade the casual copying; the "test-drive" argument doesn't hold much water because the first twenty percent of the game, about ten hours or so, will be freely available as a demo.

      Suggestions?

      • by corsec67 (627446) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:25PM (#27407213) Homepage Journal

        Simple question:
        Do you want the version people pay money for to be as good as the version without DRM that they can get from The Pirate Bay?

        • by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:37PM (#27407447)

          That's not a simple question at all.

          Of course I want it to be that easy. But making that easy vastly increases the likelihood of small-scale copies (letting a friend borrow the disc, etc.), which for an independent game is considerably more problematic than TPB.

          Your approach is "give it to us or we'll steal it." You know what my reply to that is? "Fuck you, I won't release it at all."

          Creators deserve to make money, too. I want a solution where everyone benefits.

          • by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:58PM (#27407773)

            Obviously you can make money providing support or documentation for your game: that's the FOSS way.

            In terms of a game, just release a version without any sensible controls or UI, and have them call you while they play it so you can dig around the logs and tell them they are low on life and should probably go find a health pack. Alternately, you can provide customization support such that they can add scripts to get the info without having to dig through the logs. That HUD script in turn will be rewritten in a "better" language and released as a fork with a slightly different license, at which time your userbase will splinter into two camps - both whom are completely right and the spawn of Satan at the same time.

            See now, that wasn't so hard was it?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by corsec67 (627446)

            The question is simple, the answer could be very complex.

            You could package the game with some tangible thing that has value, like a figurine, or something that isn't digital.

            Offer support, some kind of online services, etc.

            DRM is adding code to the game that is designed to be defective, to fail unless certain conditions are met. That is making your game less likely to work, and indeed making a cracked version of the game more valuable to some people.

            DRM will not affect the people who aren't going to pay any

            • by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:15PM (#27408009)

              Package a game with some tangible thing -- that increases both my costs and the cost of the game, and in theory drives more people to piracy. Plus, there's pretty few ways, if any, for an independent developer to actually provide anything in that tangible form that anybody would actually want.

              Support -- dunno about you, man, but I'd hope that a game doesn't need support. If it does, I didn't do my job as a developer and a designer.

              Online services -- this is possible/plausible, especially if I do add the possibility of a multiplayer component (the problem being that everything's balanced for single-player, and multiplayer involves ongoing costs).

              Steam is looking more and more tempting, really. Or try to get a WiiWare kit (the game has HTPC and standard-TV resolution modes already, wouldn't be too hard!) and go that route.

              I have zero interest in making life more difficult for those who purchase the game. But, at the same time, I just expect a modicum of fairness afforded to me as the creator ('specially as I've got a couple artists and a fellow musician to pay...).

          • by AmaDaden (794446) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:11PM (#27407951)

            You know what my reply to that is? "Fuck you

            Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Due to all the information that we have at our finger tips if you ever even look like you are thinking this you will get your ass handed to you. People HATE giving money to people they feel are assholes. If they have to then they have to. But if they can avoid it they will.

            The other side of this is that if they hear good things about you they will come to you. The next pair of shoes I buy I will buy though Zappos. Why? Look at these stories. http://consumerist.com/tag/zappos/ [consumerist.com]

            As for you making money I would recommend
            1)Accept donations. Some people might like your stuff so much they will over pay for it.
            2)Ask people who did pirate the game to donate if they liked it. This sounds dumb but it's a way of saying "Look I know some of you are gonna steal this game and there is nothing I can do about it. But Please if you actually like it and would like to see more post-pay for it. I'm not gonna be a jerk about it. I'm just trying to make a living." Most people have trouble ripping off people that are honest and human.
            3)Try to make it easier to buy then steal. Steam is great network for that. At this point I buy games on steam so that I never have to go CD fishing ever again if I want to play an old game

            • Steam is probably the way I'll go, if not something a little more out-there and experimental.

              But, frankly, if somebody thinks I'm an asshole for not wanting other people to avail themselves of utility from something I create without compensating me for my time and effort? I'm really OK with that.

              I'm not looking to make millions, or even more than a couple nice dinners. But I'm big on ethics and moral fairness. If people want to call me an asshole for that, that's their call.

              • by AmaDaden (794446)
                Your missing the point. It's not a mater of not being an asshole because you want to be nice. It's a matter of not being an ass hole because that is fast becoming an important modern business practice and it will make you more money in the long run. By all means be a jerk behind closed doors but if your customers ask for anything you need to be as nice and helpful as you can. If you don't make money by helping someone today by being the nice guy you will get business from that you would not have in the futu
            • damn i jsut ran out of mod points

              People HATE giving money to people they feel are assholes. If they have to then they have to. But if they can avoid it they will.

              SO true, while i could most likely pirate pennyarcade's drm less game, i have not and will not, why? because i like the guys. on the otherhand OFC i have a pirated copy of spore despite its DRM because i have no intention of paying for something produced by EA.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by TheRaven64 (641858)
                PennyArcade's game phones home and limits the number of installs. Unless they've changed the rules recently, it is not DRM-free. This is why I didn't buy it (and, no, I didn't pirate it either; if it's not worth buying, it's not worth pirating either).
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                SO true, while i could most likely pirate pennyarcade's drm less game, i have not and will not, why? because i like the guys. on the otherhand OFC i have a pirated copy of spore despite its DRM because i have no intention of paying for something produced by EA.

                So in other words, stealing the value of someone's time and effort is OK depending on who you're taking it from? I wish my morals were that flexible, life would be easy.

          • Do two things. First, just use a simple key system (don't require online authentication, that's just a pain, just validate that it's a potentially valid key), and don't worry about people installing their friends copy, they'd do it anyway if they're so inclined and nothing you can do that wouldn't also cost you paying customers is going to change that. Second require them to register on your website with the provided key in order to receive support by way of updates, patches, forums, and maybe some sort of
          • by Chelloveck (14643)

            Of course I want it to be that easy. But making that easy vastly increases the likelihood of small-scale copies (letting a friend borrow the disc, etc.), which for an independent game is considerably more problematic than TPB.

            I wouldn't worry about small-scale stuff. It is, by definition, small scale. Which means it's not worth bothering your legitimate customers to eke a few more dollars out of people who share it with a friend.

            If I wanted to make a for-pay game like this, the first thing I would do is

          • Letting a friend borrow a game should not be problematic.

      • hows about doing some sort of key that "brands" the copy with the email address of the registered user

        just be honest with your users you want money to be able to

        1 get rent cherrios jack yaddah
        2 make the next version

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        you have 2 major problems:
        1) Offline DRM is COMPLETELY flawed, the only way you can even get close to working drm is if you offer legitimate users something reasonable in exchange for connecting to your servers. A good online game play experience, downloadable content (cheep/free or even full priced), etc, all allow you to offer legitimate customers benefits while excluding those without keys.
        2) You *come across* as a bit of an asshole, if you want people to pay for something they can get for free, stop tal

      • by Jabbrwokk (1015725)

        The Witcher [wikipedia.org] (original, not the Enhanced Edition) shipped with a CD-Key that most people thought was useless. It allowed you to register your game with publisher Atari and get... not much.

        However, the studio later released an Enhanced Edition, which added more cutscenes, more dialogue, more quests, two side-missions that stand alone from the main game, the official soundtrack, a CD of music inspired by the game and a "making-of" DVD. All this stuff was available for purchase; but the best part is the studi

  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:46PM (#27406553) Homepage
    I wonder how much these companies spend licensing and supporting DRM. Even leaving out sales lost because of DRM, I have a hard time imagining them making up those costs.
    • by goltzc (1284524) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:12PM (#27407007)
      I wonder how many companies that have spent a lot of money on DRM schemes are publicly traded. Investing in DRM sure seems like a proactive (yet pointless) way of making sure your investors believe that you are protecting your sales.

      Perception of money saved > Actual money saved
    • by Shihar (153932) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:32PM (#27407345)

      I am a pretty avid game buyer. I got out of college, got a job, and suddenly found tossing out a couple hundred on video games occasionally wasn't a large expense. If I see a game that I want, I generally just buy it.

      I skipped over Red Alert 3 and Spore.

      Those are two games that I normally would have not thought twice about buying. I like video games, and they are not such a big expense for me where I have to spend much time thinking about if I want to buy it or not, but in the case of those two games I took a pass because of DRM. I can merrily ignore DRM if it doesn't affect me. Limited licenses, crippling applications installed onto my computer, nice big loop holes for security breaches? Thanks. I'll pass. Video games are nice, but not worth crippling my computer or supporting that kind of anti-consumer behavior.

      EA needed to be taught a lesson and hopefully they learned it. Spore had the most crippling DRM of all times and was the most pirated game of all times. Pssst... EA... DRM doesn't stop pirates. It sure does piss off people who on a normal day would hand you a sweat wad of cash without thinking twice.

      • Same boat over here. I have no problem paying for games (though I rarely buy them when they first come out). I believe whole heartedly in supporting creative software developers who put out useful/interesting/fun/etc software.

        I do have a problem with the state of DRM. Consequently, I haven't even bothered to look at GTA IV or Red Alert 3 for me. In fact since that seems to the de facto standard on most PC games (or so it seems) I've just stopped buying PC games outright. It doesn't help that a lot of

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:47PM (#27406565)
    Well, maybe in some part of the world.
  • by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrun@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:48PM (#27406583) Journal

    Does this also remove the other aspects of SecureROM, other than just 'number of installs?' Like the whole 'Hey, you have Nero installed! Therefore, you can't run this game! How dare you have standard computer equipment like a CD burner installed in your computer!'

    • Does this also remove the other aspects of SecureROM, other than just 'number of installs?' Like the whole 'Hey, you have Nero installed! Therefore, you can't run this game! How dare you have standard computer equipment like a CD burner installed in your computer!'

      This happens sometimes when I try to play Heroes of Might and Magic V! It's like playing russian roulette. "Will I get to play the game I paid for, today?" Made me decide to never pay for another DRM-touched piece of s[oftware] ever again. Ever.

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:57PM (#27406739) Journal

        This happens sometimes when I try to play Heroes of Might and Magic V! It's like playing russian roulette.

        Yeah, because not getting to play 'Heroes of Might and Magic V' is totally equivalent to a 16.667% chance of blowing your brains out ;)

        • by ravenlock (693538)
          Actually, GP is correct in the sense that with HOMM, getting to play pretty much is equivalent to a bullet to the brain.
        • by Yvan256 (722131)

          Or, if you're an idiot, a 100% chance of blowing your brains out [darwinawards.com].

          • by Chris Burke (6130)

            LOL I thought it'd be some tard who forgot to empty N-1 chambers of the revolver... I never even imagined the kind of stupid where you'd play Russian Roulette with a semi-auto -- it's like the guy knew literally nothing about the game except that you shoot yourself in the head. The universe continues to amaze me!

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Well, obviously, you haven't played the expansion which includes a "special controller."

        • Yeah, because not getting to play 'Heroes of Might and Magic V' is totally equivalent to a 16.667% chance of blowing your brains out ;)

          16.667%? Real men use automatics.

      • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:03PM (#27406849)

        Heroes of Might and Magic 3 was my first experience with SecuROM. It disabled my CD burner...permanently. EA owes me $55 for that one.

        In total, SecuROM has been the demise of three of my drives. There was no way to determine whether or not a game had it back then, so it was hit and miss. SecuROM, or EA, owe me approx. $150 for disabled drives over the last 12 years or so.

        Since I NEVER expect to receive a buck from them in compensation, I protect my drives instead. I stopped BUYING THEIR GAMES. And every one that I bought in the past, I have since downloaded cracked versions and use them instead.

        Is that what you wanted, EA?

        Drop SecuROM, entirely, or you've still lost a customer.

      • Do you use Process Explorer? Running Process Explorer and even after closing it triggered something in SecuROM that would prevent Heroes V from running. Newer versions of Process Explorer do not cause the issue though.
    • >>>Does this also remove the other aspects of SecureROM, other than just 'number of installs?' Like the whole 'Hey, you have Nero installed! Therefore, you can't run this game! How dare you have standard computer equipment like a CD burner installed in your computer!'
      >>>

      If I bought software from EA that refused to run, I'd follow this procedure:

      1 - Ask for a refund.
      2 a - If they refuse to refund, I'd return an empty envelope with tracking.
      2 b - File a credit card chargeback to screw them,

  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:55PM (#27406689) Journal

    I have had to return two of the Battlefield expansion packs because I could not activate them even after spending several hours on the problem. No matter what I did the online part of the process did not work and I was denied access. These expansion packs were online only so I effectively couldn't use the software at all. Fortunately I bought from a gaming shop that does take returns on games that do not work. I wrote to EA, asked for help. Then again to revoke whatever I'd registered. No reply of course. One day these greedy fools will realize that they're shooting themselves in the foot with DRM. Sure some piracy will be curtailed in some circumstances. So will some legitimate use. In the long run they lose out because the game becomes hard to use and not worth the effort.

    • by peragrin (659227)

      EA probably realized that a significant percentage of customer service calls and returns were for problems with securROM. By dropping it all together they are saving money on development costs, and call center calls

    • One day.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:06PM (#27406901)
      One day these greedy fools will realize that they're shooting themselves in the foot with DRM.

      They removed the DRM from Sims 3 and just released a tool to retroactively remove DRM from older games. One could make a reasonably cogent argument that that day is today.

      (Good thing that day wasn't tomorrow, or no one would have believed them.)
      • Re:One day.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:16PM (#27407055) Journal

        and just released a tool to retroactively remove DRM from older games.

        No they didn't. In essence, they released a tool to reset your "activated" flag from TRUE to FALSE.

        So when you try to install and activate on a second machine, you can -- as long as you have unactivated on the first machine. This is nice, since it allows for continuance of the doctrine of first sale. This is not nice, as it still leaves the DRM.

        All this does is make their DRM adhere to certain consumer protection laws.

        Also note that they have not committed to release Sims 3 DRM-free; instead, they have vowed not to use the broken DRM tool they have been using up til now.

      • by Sowelu (713889)
        No, they didn't remove the DRM. They just eased ridiculous restrictions saying that if you install on a system, then get a new machine, and repeat that three times, you can't install on a new machine any more. Now you can reverse that countdown a little bit, if you actively uninstall the game. You're still hosed if your drive dies, because then you can't get credit back.
      • by 7 digits (986730)

        > They removed the DRM from Sims 3 and just released a tool to retroactively remove DRM from older games.

        Uh ? Did you actually _read_ the article ? They offer you a tool to deactivate *computers*, so you can install the game again. They didn't removed DRM.

        PS: I bought one game with SecuROM. I will never ever buy any game with DRM.

      • >>>just released a tool to retroactively remove DRM from older games

        Reading comprehension is not your forte' is it? EA did no such thing. They released a *assistant* to deactivate existing installs, but the DRM is still there causing problems, either now or in the future.

    • by DarthVain (724186)

      Its not so much that they are greedy (well they are, but that is beside the point), it is that they are misinformed and unrealistic.

      1st hardly any of these folks develop their own DRM, there is a whole industry out there preying on the fears of developers. They (and their consultants) will tell them whatever they want to hear to sell their own garbage.

      2nd they really just went a bit too far. DRM has been around since the beginning of video games, and so has trying to get around it and pirating software and

      • by DarthVain (724186)

        A good simple example of this was the old code wheels you got is some games. Basically a code word based on the manual from two cardboard disks.

        Sure you could photocopy the stupid manual, and make a cardboard wheel, and I am sure some did. However it was just damn easier to buy the damn game.

        Also I think a basic truth is that the lower the cost of the item the less it will be worthwhile to pirate. It has already been pointed out that games are way over priced and that a correction needs to occur. They would

  • Hm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:02PM (#27406839) Homepage Journal

    Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system

    I bet that's not a quote from EA's documentation.
    • Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system

      I bet that's not a quote from EA's documentation.

      When you're an evil overload, you need to gloat and laugh maniacally about something.

    • You should see the DRM that the tool uses! Makes me miss SecuROM!
  • by antdude (79039) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:09PM (#27406953) Homepage Journal

    I remember C&C3: Kane's Wrath patch had SecureROM that caused people (including mine)'s explorer.exe to go bonker and crash. See http://www.google.com/search?q=kane's+wrath+explorer.exe+securom [google.com] ... :)

  • Hulk mad. (Score:4, Funny)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:14PM (#27407033) Journal

    >>>it's still possible to run out of activations in the event of hardware failure or other source of data loss

    Hulk crush EA's company cars. Grrrr.

  • by Sowelu (713889) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:15PM (#27407039)
    Many of EA's games can only be installed three times on different computers (based on hardware ID codes)--and then, even if you never gave away your CD key or anything else, you don't get to install them ANYWHERE. Serious problem if you get three new computers! This tool lets you de-authorize a computer, saying "I don't want to play the game on THIS computer any more. Credit me with the ability to install it on a new place again." Of course that doesn't help if your hard drive dies; that one ability to install it dies with your drive, and you can't take it back. The DRM is still very present.
  • I didn't RTFA but do I need to activate the tool before I can use it? If so, can it deactivate itself once I'm done with it?
  • by lancert (1082449) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:39PM (#27407495)
    I've never understood people's belief that they have the right to someone else's work be it music, videos, games, software or whatever. Calling EA an evil overlord for trying to profit from their work and protect it from being stolen is totally goofy. If you don't want to pay for it, you shouldn't have it. I'm sure people are going to trash this statement but if you don't like the DRM they install with it, don't buy it. But stealing a copy of something because you don't like the DRM is theft. Plain and simple.
    • Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:45PM (#27407583)

      What you don't understand is that EA's DRM was screwing up computers of people who DID pay!

    • DRM that limits the number of times you can install a game you own is theft.

    • You are wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by Brain-Fu (1274756) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:58PM (#27407763) Homepage Journal

      But stealing a copy of something because you don't like the DRM is theft. Plain and simple.

      Legally speaking, it is not theft. Copyright infringement is an entirely different legal concept than theft. So you are wrong.

      Morally speaking, you are wrong too. Theft deprives the owner of use, whereas copyright infringement does not. So it is not morally similar to theft (it might still be wrong of course, just as murder is wrong even though it is not theft, but this does not make it the same thing as theft).

      I know you think I am splitting semantic hairs. Of course, I disagree. I think your sloppy use of language obscures the truth and frustrates our efforts at thinking clearly about this issue. It is not "plain and simple," and your misguided attempts at making it so are not helpful.

      The issue is not one of entitlement, production, or theft...but one of boundaries. One person's interest in securing the profitability of a work is directly conflicting with someone else's interest in being able to make full use of the (hardware AND software) resources available to them. Perhaps my natural desire to play a game for free should not supersede your "right" (sic) to ensure that every copy of your work is paid for. But, conversely, neither does your desire to get paid justify forcefully taking control of my computer (and the computers of every person in the world) away.

      So, we need to work out these boundaries. In order to work them out fairly, we need to understand them in exacting detail. Thus, we must avoid oversimplifications like yours.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I've never understood people's belief that they have the right to someone else's work be it music, videos, games, software or whatever. Calling EA an evil overlord for trying to profit from their work and protect it from being stolen is totally goofy. If you don't want to pay for it, you shouldn't have it. I'm sure people are going to trash this statement but if you don't like the DRM they install with it, don't buy it. But stealing a copy of something because you don't like the DRM is theft. Plain and simple.

      Upon careful reflection you'll find the answer was within the whole time!

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      If EA doesn't want me to resell my copy of $GAME, they can open up a video arcade so that I can't sell $GAME after I've played it. I bought it, it's mine, and I should be able to sell it.
    • Ive never understood people's belief that companies can ignore basic rights of trade.

  • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:47PM (#27407617)

    So when can I buy a copy of Spore with the assurance it does NOT have SecuROM onboard?

  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:54PM (#27407721) Homepage Journal

    I uninstalled Spore a few weeks ago and just tried to reclaim the activation with EA's new tool. All I get is this message:

    Important Message!

    There is a problem with verifying ownership of your game. Please verify your game registration code and reinstall your game."

    What the hell does that mean? I have to install the game again? So do I run the deauth tool while it's still installed? And then uninstall it again?

    Screw this. If my game ceases to work I'll just pirate it.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:54PM (#27407729)

    I recently installed some industrial software who's installation/licensing scheme struck me as incredibly brilliant.

    They don't care how many machines you have, or even how many machines you install the software on. What they care about is that you are only ever using one instance of the software at a time, because that is the license you payed for.

    To accomplish this, they use a 2-part licensing scheme that is based on an original license authorization, and a randomly generated key created upon installation. To transfer the authorization, you have to have the key generated by the software on the computer you want to transfer to first, then you can use it to generate a NEW authorization on the old machine. Generating a new authorization re-creates the original machine's key, breaking the authorization there, so a new transfer is required in order to use it again.

    You can move it around all you want, you can even operate off of two machines if you want, you just have to re-authorize it each time. Also, because it's just a standard licensing scheme and not some crazy copy protection, it doesn't break any functionality.

    Most people would find this reasonable, I think, and sure it's breakable, but the market for such a crack should be reduced, and if done well that's a hard system to circumvent. I think so anyway, I could be wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I don't understand this. How does installing on a second machine break authorization on the first? Either you'd need the first machine available to authorize the second, or you'd have to be connected to the net every time you started the program. Otherwise, there's no way to stop somebody from taking the first computer, putting it somewhere without a net connection, and using the software while it's authorized on the second machine.

      The first alternative suggests that you're SOL if the first machine br

    • by c0d3g33k (102699) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @05:00PM (#27408659)

      Most people would find this reasonable.

      Nope. It's just as damned inconvenient and braindead as other schemes that artificially induce limitations that aren't there to begin with. One instance at a time is just as stupid as any other limitation.

      Example:

      Limited software in question is installed on 3 computers: Workstation at the office, laptop and home workstation.

      Scenario 1: Working on project at office workstation. Suddenly called to important meeting with important executive to deal with an important issue. Grab laptop, head off to meeting - no time to logoff, generate new key, whatever. Productive discussion ensues. Executive asks for a quick review of discussion concepts using expensive software he paid for. Activate laptop, start software. Bzzzt! Didn't generate stupid license key, so no efficient conclusion to discussion. Executive leaves meeting with mandate to find new tool ASAP without stupid licensing scheme.

      Scenario 2: Good week at office. Project done, system deployed. Vacation next week. No need to generate key - won't need it. As vacation starts - emergency phone call to fix unforeseen issue. Bzzt! Sorry - can't use home system to fix problem. Long drive into office causes family to miss plane, vacation ruined, divorce ensues. Solemn vow never to use stupid software again.

      Scenario 3: Good week at office. Project done, system deployed. Generate key for laptop just in case - not stupid like scenario 2 guy. Sunday morning - emergency call. No problem - just fire up laptop, install key, fix problem. Bzzzt! Hard drive failure - laptop won't boot. Home system can't use exclusive key made for laptop. Stupid licensing scheme cursed forever, new tool found.

      The problem with schemes that impose limitations is that they are ... limiting, and at some point those limitations will cause a problem that shouldn't have been one.

      Only human beings would invent technology that removes limitations (like cost-free digital reproduction that sounded like Utopia in the sci-fi novels ... and the marketing copy) then turn around and impose artificial limitations to nullify the benefit that the new tech offered.

      • I once wrote a shareware app. The shareware version just had a nag screen when you started the program and some minor functionality disabled. If you registered my program, you got a registration code which you entered along with your name. All the code was a simple hash of the name that resulted in about 5 or 6 digits (no 42 digit hex numbers here). When registering, the program would store the name and checksum in its .INI file.

        I didn't care how many computers you installed on, or even how many people

    • by HiThere (15173)

      That's the wrong old school. The one you should be looking at is the dongle.

      A usb stub (pass-though, so you can just leave it installed and still use the port) would probably be acceptable to most people. It could be pretty cheap and not draw a noticeable amount of power. It would be like requiring the CD, but less inconvenient to use and harder to duplicate.

      I'll admit I hated the dongles, but not so much that I tended to boycott products. DRM as it exists is something that causes me to just avoid buyin

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