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DRM Shuts Down PC Version of Gears of War 598

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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  • 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 PaganRitual ( 551879 ) <splaga@internod[ ] ['e.o' in gap]> on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:44AM (#26663427)

    They have provided a revoke tool, as most of these idiots that use this sort of online authentication are forced to do as it's obviously a highly flawed setup. It's pathetic that we are forced to this and I honestly wish I hadn't supported the game with my money when they pull this sort of bullshit. Next time I think I'll simply wait until games like this drop in price or become budget releases so I don't contribute to undeserved high initial sales when they pull shit like this. Unsurprisingly the developers of Sacred 2 were forced to provide the same thing for a similarly idiotic authetication system.

    There is a link down the bottom of this [] page to get the tool to remove an installation. I haven't had to use it so I hope it works for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:02AM (#26663519)

    Oblivion has no such retarded online authentication.

    The game itself doesn't. The DLC, on the other hand, does -- and it's such a broken system that it only works on XP.

    Bought the DLC as an XP user, "upgraded" to Vista, and want to play again? Too bad, you can't. Unless you buy it all again on CD. Or do what I did, which is to download the torrents. (Illegal, but hardly immoral; I wasn't downloading anything I hadn't already bought and paid for.)

  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anzya ( 464805 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:05AM (#26663535)

    One workaround for the event that your internet drops is to hook up your mobilephone to the computer and run it as a modem for just as long that you need to go offline in steam.
    It's still annoying to be forced to do it but at least you can play

  • 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:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anzya ( 464805 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:47AM (#26663797)

    My phone has a standard GSM plan using GPRS, hooked up to the computer using a usb-cable. Not sure what phones and cell phone plans you have in USA but I would guess more or less every mobile phone in Sweden is able to do the same without any extra cell phone plans.
    It would never cross my mind sign up for anything extra just to be ready in case the internet should drop...

  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:4, Informative)

    by PaganRitual ( 551879 ) <splaga@internod[ ] ['e.o' in gap]> 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.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @05:59AM (#26664141)

    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 absolute battle royale, they won't get a refund and they'll be lucky to get a replacement.

    I've heard of this happening in at least two large chains in the UK, and witnessed it first hand once. Until the regulators start to impose swingeing fines on companies doing this, I can't see it changing.

  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @06:04AM (#26664159)

    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 Steam game. Even if some other games on Steam got great reviews. So Valve is probably losing money due to DRM in my case.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @06:13AM (#26664201)

    I suppose you could do that but again, it is just a matter of nabbing the good code when it gets loaded in to memory. The ultimate problem you have with any of this shit is that at some point the code has to be in system memory, in an unencrypted format for the CPU to execute. If it is there, someone can get it. You can try all the tricky shit you like, they can debug at the kernel level (or inside a VM) and get at your code.

    Reason they stopped the corruption thing you are talking about is because it pissed off legit customers as well. Like anything else, dongles can have problems. Well if your dongle has a problem and your app just says "The license isn't available," then you go oh, ok, and start looking at what is wrong with the dongle. If the dongle has problems and your app just fucks up your work, you call the company screaming with rage.

    Part of the problem of extremely tricky DRM schemes is that you can end up badly screwing over your legit users. While you might get the crackers temporarily, they'll figure out your trick and just patch around it. However legit users don't know there is a trick. They paid for your software, they want it to work. If it messes up, they are mad at you. If it messes up their work and/or system because of it they are REALLY mad at you and you can be liable for damages.

    It is becoming an increasing problem these days as companies try to make unbreakable DRM. They can't, it isn't possible, but they try. The side effect is more and more legit users get screwed. You even see this with simple DRM like CD protection. Time was, protected CDs almost never had a problem. They were standards compliant CDs. All they did was write some data to not normally used areas like the subchannels or something. Drives had no problems. Ok well that wasn't hard to defeat, of course. So now they've massively upped the ante. The protection system analyzes the ATIP, checks for virtual drives, etc, etc. Problem is, that there are legit systems that it doesn't work on.

    I had that problem with Civ 4 Beyond the Sword. Went and bought it at Target when it came out, since I'm a huge Civ addict. Got home, installed, and it wouldn't run. Said I needed to insert the disc. Well the disc was in the drive, of course, Id' just installed. I took it back in case I'd gotten a bad disc. Well I hadn't, it was just the protection (Safedisc if you are curious) had problems with my drive. I debated what to do and settled on just downloading a crack.

  • by Latinhypercube ( 935707 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:17AM (#26664459)
    I couldn't even install FarCry 2. And I'm a tech head who built his own machine. 2 months of tech support and forum searching couldn't solve it. EVERY other game runs perfectly including Crysis, Left 4 dead, dead space etc... I wish I could get a refund but the box is opened.
  • by Spacejock ( 727523 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:21AM (#26664477) Homepage
    I've already turned away in disgust. For many years I would happily buy one or more games a month, transferring the disk images to my PC with Virtual CD so I didn't have to hunt for one particular game disk amongst hundreds. (Same reason I won't buy a console.)

    Then I ran across the first Starforce game, in the form of some crap called Trackmania. I uninstalled it about ten minutes later and haven't seen the disk since. Then I bought GT Legends, because I'm a big fan of classic racers, and that came with Starforce too. I put up with it for a week, then bailed.

    After the tenth time manually uninstalling and reinstalling my CDRom from the hardware control panel due to it suddenly insisting on running in PIO mode, it was adios to Starforce and no more games buying.

    I've only bought two games in the past few years: Oblivion (plus the addons, which happily run in Virtual CD), and GTA IV. I knew GTA IV was DRM'd up the wazoo, but it was a must-have game for me.

    And that's what my games-buying has been reduced to ... one blockbuster title every couple of years. I don't download any, I just don't bother any more. Instead of playing games I now spend a lot more time watching DVDs (which I believe can be) ripped and transcoded onto my file server.
  • 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 []

  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:3, Informative)

    by danieltdp ( 1287734 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @08:04AM (#26664703)

    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, for one, will never put another penny at that shit.

  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:3, Informative)

    by khellendros1984 ( 792761 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @08:41AM (#26664907) Journal
    You *can* put the games on a disk, then put them back on the hard's just that you'd still need to sign in to Steam when you reinstalled. Anything in the Steamapps directory is game data. If the data file is in there, Steam doesn't re-download it.
  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @08:51AM (#26665001) Homepage

    If you don't have a data plan on your phone, then this either won't work at all, or you will be charged a hefty fee per kilobyte for your trouble...

    A better option is piracy, pirate the games and you don't have DRM problems. Buy them as well if it makes you feel better, then you can play the pirate copies when the legit ones screw you over.

  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Informative)

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

    You can make a backup of ClientRegistry.blob [] 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.

  • undo bad mod (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @09:55AM (#26665487)

    Killing bad moderation...

    I really wish they'd fix it to allow an undo function on mods

  • by neomunk ( 913773 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:08AM (#26665631)

    Don't be bullied into thinking an open box cannot be returned. If the product doesn't work, you're entitled to a refund (well, depending on where you live, what I said is true in most slashdotter's countries). Store policy doesn't trump the law, period. If you're sold a defective product, return it for your refund, be insistent, they WILL give in.

    Now, they might want you to jump through some hoops first, like taking their offer of free tech support, just jump through the (reasonable) hoops and you'll either have a working game or your money back. This has always been my experience (has happened 3 times).

  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nicolay77 ( 258497 ) <nicolay,g&gmail,com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:26AM (#26665815) Homepage

    My favourite game, rFactor, I play with my pirated version.

    And I have bought the legal, paid version just because I wanted to support the company. And I show it proudly to my friends.

    But having the disc in the tray constantly just damages the disc and inconveniences me.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:51AM (#26666153) Homepage Journal

    I thought how strange, being as how a couple of them didn't even have a multiplayer mode. I thought, well maybe that's just for some kind of updating scheme or something, but I sure wasn't going to risk $50 to find out. So I ended up buying a USB drive, taking it to a place with high speed public internet, and just torrenting a few cracked games instead.

    I can't play my restored Steam backups because I cannot update Steam on my modem connection (it is not smart enough to resume downloads. Steam is shit) and so I have learned that Steam is not my friend. They told me I could make backups and play them without having to get them blessed. They lied. Fuck Valve, fuck Steam, and fuck Half-Life n. Anyone want to buy my fat-jewelcase HL2 disc and code?

    Any user who plans to play these games into the future does their self a great disservice if they buy anything which requires a connection at any time, whether it's just for the install or every time.

  • by Targon ( 17348 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:24AM (#26666589)

    This is why I am going to make a full hard drive image before I install any programs. If a game puts SecuROM on there, once I am done playing, I just revert to the image, and no more SecuROM garbage on my machine.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:41AM (#26666783)
    Sorry, citation: []
  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:3, Informative)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <megazzt&gmail,com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:57AM (#26667015) Homepage
    You probably should update this backup whenever a) Steam or one of its games has an update or b) you purchase a new game on Steam. If you don't do it for a), the out of date blob file might force it to need to connect to the Internet to update the file. If you don't do it for b) you won't be able to access your new game because the blob file doesn't include your purchase data for that game.
  • by wolf12886 ( 1206182 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:57AM (#26667023)

    The cracked version im running still works fine as of this morning.

  • by Edgewize ( 262271 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:44PM (#26668563)

    The submitter is trolling, and all the arguments about DRM are pointless. This has absolutely nothing to do with DRM.

    Gears of War is, like all "good" Windows programs (according to Microsoft), a signed executable. It is also a game with online multiplayer, so it has an integrity check that tries to make sure you're not playing with modified game files (eg where all walls are rendered transparently or the player models have 50-foot-high red arrows above them).

    The integrity check has a simple bug. It expects the signing certificate to be valid based on today's date, instead of on the date of signing. That's it.

    It has nothing to do with rights or intentional expiration. Many other applications with expired signing certs work perfectly well.

    It's just a bug. Please shut up about DRM.

  • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:3, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday January 30, 2009 @05:05PM (#26671341) Journal

    Why didn't you just contact Steam technical support?

    Have you actually ever tried? What they're going to say to GP is that "it works as designed" - because it does that. No, he's not missing anything. No, he can't have a refund. No, he can't do a credit card chargeback - when he signed up for Steam, the EULA he agreed to stated that in the event he tries to do a chargeback for any reason, Valve has the right to disable and block his Steam account (with all the games he has in it).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @06:05PM (#26672001)

    no, it's not the DRM that has the bug. that's the whole fucking point. the bug is in the check for a modified executable, a check which pretty much every single online game performs

    it has nothing to do with CD checking, or online activation, or content licenses, or anything else DRM-related.

    the certificate is a cryptographic signature, not a "content license". it's nothing more than a hash of the EXE file, some metadata about the signing party (Epic), and half of a public-private key pair.

    as with many other online games, the game won't run if the signature doesn't match (meaning that the game logic in the executable has been modified). there is a bug causing the signature to come up as "no match" because it is checking the expiration time of the signing certificate against the current time instead of the signing time.

    again, NOT DRM. nothing to do with DRM. you could not even use the signing certificate as DRM if you *wanted* to. it's the same certificate on all copies of the game, regardless of who installs it.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll