FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I've had bad experiences with DRM protected games in the past. Some are as simple as a disc check or online activation. I'm fine with that. But when some games such as Spore or Mirror's Edge limit how many times I can install the game when I pay for it, that's when it's gone too far. I'll use my experience with Spore for this. I installed the game, nowhere on the box did it mention install limits or anything like that. Shortly afterwards, I took my computer to a friends house to play World of Warcraft with a group of us friends. When I travel, I take a different monitor than my home monitor. Why is this important? I'll tell you. After bringing my computer back home and hooking it up to my main monitor and trying to run Spore, it wouldn't load. I did some research online and learned that the DRM used (SecuROM) is very picky when it comes to hardware. It saw my monitor change as a "hardware upgrade" and barred access from the game. This caused me to have to re-install it to get it to work. Guess what, that counted as 2 of my 3 activations I'm allowed to have as a paying customer. Well Spore worked fine after that....until I went back to my friend's house. I returned only to further back up my findings by seeing that Spore would not load again. After this event, I permanently un-installed the game from my system after being fed up of the game and the company practically treating me like a criminal. But it didn't end there. When I un-installed Spore, it left the SecuROM software hidden deep in my computer where it secretly installed it to begin with. There was no reason for it to be there nor any use for it since Spore was gone from my system. I then had to figure out how to remove it from my system. Here's a breakdown of how the install of SecuROM works: It installs itself to a hidden folder on your computer. It bars access from that folder and give you no uninstall program nor does it pop up in the Add/Remove Programs list for removal. In order to remove it, I had to download third party open-source software and follow a list of risky instructions involving registry scans and deletions. After that event, I vowed to never buy a game that has DRM that acts like a computer virus and treats me like a criminal ever again. If something is not done about how harsh these programs are, either there's going to be a widespread growth in piracy of the games or people will simply boycott developers like they have already started doing. As a comparison, I paid $50 for a game that limits my installs, secretly installs a hidden, hard to remove program that it doesn't remove on un-install and locks itself out when I change monitors when I could have downloaded the cracked game for free, a week before release without install limits, without game lockout and without hidden programs being installed on my computer. Us victims of these rampant DRM programs are practically paying to be treated like criminals while the actual criminals get what us paying customers should have. Something needs to be done, and I hope that it's quick and fair for the developers as well as the paying customers. The criminals aren't affected by DRM, we are.