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Op Ed

Gamasutra - Colt Whitaker's Blog - Gaming can Save a Life.
What was the cause of this result? The video game Re-Mission. Three hundred seventy five male and female participants in the study were each given a computer. The computer had one or two games on it depending upon whether participants were in the control or intervention group. For the control group, a Shuttle SB51G minicomputer contained a single commercial game for the participant to play, Indiana Jones and the Emperorís Tomb. While the intervention groupís computers contained not only this commercial game, but also the intervention game Re-Mission.

CNET News - How to get DRM-free PC games: Just wait. Thanks Peter.
Spore by EA may be one of the most high profile examples of this practice. It shipped in late-2008 with SecuROM, a copy-protection technology that keeps people from installing the game on too many machines. At the time of launch, that number was limited to three, meaning a user who had purchased the software would have to keep track of where that software was installed and deactivate any old copies before installing it on new hardware. The move to include this, along with a check that would verify whether a copy was legitimate each time a user went online, resulted in plenty of negative press, bad user reviews, and piracy on an absolutely massive scale after hackers were able to bypass the security measures.

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1. Re: CNET News - How to get DRM-free PC games: Just wait. Mar 16, 2010, 14:35 I've Got The News Blues
 
SecuROM efforts on other games were met with similar results, including EA's Mass Effect for PC, which used a five-machine limit. It too went DRM-free when it was offered on Steam in March 2009, a whole 10 months after its initial PC release.

The author of that article is an idiot who doesn't know a damn thing about DRM.

Steam is not DRM-free. Steam is DRM. Just because the author doesn't know how it works and it's not identical to SecuROM, doesn't mean Steam has no DRM. While other major digital distribution services such as Direct2Drive, Gamersgate, and GOG.com offer at least some DRM-free games, Steam does not.

Ironically Steam's DRM is actually more limiting and stricter than SecuROM in the following ways.

1. While SecuROM usually limits activation/use to a set number of PC's, a game can still be installed and played on multiple PC's at the same time (with the number of PC's being the number of activations). Plus, those activations can be easily reclaimed by the user without contacting SecuROM or the game publisher simply by launching the game with a "/revoke" switch or using a standalone tool. In contrast, with Steam a game can only be used by the one account which purchased or received it, and that account can only be used on a single PC at any one time. Once a Steam game is activated or used, it cannot be undone or revoked by the user.

2. Games with SecuROM can be resold, shared, or transferred and still played by the receiving party so long as the game's key code has activations remaining. With Steam's DRM, once a game is activated to a Steam account it cannot be transferred or resold. The entire Steam account and all games in it would have to be transferred as well. But, if Valve found out it would ban/disable all accounts owned by the same owner or which have used the same credit card number (which Valve tracks).

3. Each game which uses SecuROM is still separate and independent of the others which use it. One game's activation limits don't affect any other game which uses SecuROM so being unable to activate one SecuROM game doesn't render all of the user's other games which use SecuROM unplayable. In contrast, Steam's DRM is a universal kill switch for all games which use it. If Steam isn't working for a user or his account is banned, disabled, or he can't login, then all of his games which use Steam are unplayable.

This comment was edited on Mar 16, 2010, 17:21.
 
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