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EA Won't Use DRM For The Sims 3

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the learning-from-their-mistakes dept.

Games 128

After taking heavy criticism for the use of SecuROM in Spore and other games, EA has made the decision to go back to simple serial code authentication for The Sims 3. EA's Rod Humble said simply, "We feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future."

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128 comments

It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (3, Insightful)

iYk6 (1425255) | about 5 years ago | (#27367883)

Serial keys are an improvement over more draconian DRM, but it is still DRM. And it is just as effective as other forms of DRM. In other words, the pirates' copies will have been already cracked to not require a serial key, or will come with a serial key generator.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (2, Interesting)

Bught_42 (1012499) | about 5 years ago | (#27367903)

Perhaps they realize that DRM is almost entirely useless and that they shouldn't piss off the people who actually do pay for video games.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27369251)

Or maybe it's because Sims 3 is a game none of us have any interest in anyway.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27370299)

No, I personally have a little bit of interest in it. The previous two games have been amusing and rather addicting, this next one looks to be about the same with the new features.

Not that I plan on buying every expansion. Sims 2 went overboard with the Stuff packs, and the last big expansion was obviously tossed together from a minor feature idea and bit of sims 1 expansions tossed in.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (5, Insightful)

Dryesias (1326115) | about 5 years ago | (#27367917)

I think serial keys are necessary. They stop casual copying from being prevalent. Many people are not willing or knowledgeable enough to go through the time/effort to download a torrent, mess with keygenerators and/or no-cd cracks, and then possibly still be blocked from online pay. Without serial keys, anyone could just buy say, an RTS like AoE3 and install it on all your friends computers real quick so you can play together online. There has to be a balance, and I feel serial keys are a nice compromise, since it really doesn't require additional effort on my part, and I can even resell my software, because it is truly mine.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

Hunter-Killer (144296) | about 5 years ago | (#27369023)

Is there really that much of a difference between handing my buddy a CD in a jewel case vs handing him a CD in a jewel case that has the key printed on it?
I don't believe keys matter for casual loaning of single player games, which is what The Sims 3 is. Their best strategy is to discourage loaning, which has been a side-effect of hand-held console cartridges for some time. Carts have a finite amount of space for save game slots, and as a result you don't want to loan your cartridge to someone careless who will overwrite your "hard work" with their own progress. This could be implemented in a similar fashion by moving storing saves online, and limiting the amount of slots available. The customer loses some flexibility by being unable to save locally, but benefits by not losing progress when reinstalling, or transitioning between different computers.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 5 years ago | (#27369405)

Their best strategy is to discourage loaning, which has been a side-effect of hand-held console cartridges for some time. Carts have a finite amount of space for save game slots, and as a result you don't want to loan your cartridge to someone careless who will overwrite your "hard work" with their own progress.

So let me get this straight -- you want to discourage, not copying, but loaning?

Since these are so often compared to physical objects, let's compare. With a console game, no one really minds loaning them -- the biggest concern is that you won't have it while they're borrowing it, and it might get scratched.

But if anything, this opens up new markets -- game rentals, and used games. And it does drive up the value of a game, if you know it can be re-sold.

It's only very recently that content providers have even toyed with the idea of "selling" a book, or a movie, which couldn't be transferred.

The supposed purpose of DRM is to "keep honest people honest", by preventing things like actual copyright infringement. But your comment does tend to indicate the true purpose of DRM -- to prevent people from doing perfectly honest things (like lending) that you'd rather be able to charge for.

This could be implemented in a similar fashion by moving storing saves online, and limiting the amount of slots available.

If you're already forcing them to be online, why do you need to limit the number of saves? Just don't allow more than one person to be online at once.

The customer loses some flexibility by being unable to save locally,

and by having a limited number of saves,

but benefits by not losing progress when reinstalling, or transitioning between different computers.

That is a benefit. I should point out that it is one of the benefits of Steam.

And hey, I can lend games on Steam. I just have to lend the whole account at a time, and if I lend my account credentials, I risk losing the account. That's really all the incentive I need -- to limit the number of saves on top of that really serves no purpose, other than to save you disk space. And with all the data Steam gathers about me, disk space clearly isn't an issue.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

Hunter-Killer (144296) | about 5 years ago | (#27370679)

So let me get this straight -- you want to discourage, not copying, but loaning?

The parent was talking about casual copying. If a game did not implement CD checks, then it could be loaned out, installed, then returned--no copying required. I think it's fairly obvious why game devs prefer users buying their products instead of borrowing them from a friend.

But if anything, this opens up new markets -- game rentals, and used games. And it does drive up the value of a game, if you know it can be re-sold.

Used game sales aren't good for the original developer. If a game is bought for $50, then resold four times for $10-30 each time, how much does the original developer make? $50. Epic Games [gamesindustry.biz] has voiced their opinion on the issue, and has taken measures to discourage the practice (unlocks/DLC).

The supposed purpose of DRM is to "keep honest people honest", by preventing things like actual copyright infringement. But your comment does tend to indicate the true purpose of DRM -- to prevent people from doing perfectly honest things (like lending) that you'd rather be able to charge for.

I don't disagree with your statement that DRM can have ulterior reasons. However, lending is not always honest. With a book, possession directly implies access. If I loan out a book, I can't read it until it's returned. Software is different; It's dishonest to loan out my copy of Office 2007 to my friends to install, if can still use it.

If you're already forcing them to be online, why do you need to limit the number of saves? Just don't allow more than one person to be online at once.

The point of limiting saves is to create a finite resource, which discourages sharing. Users wouldn't have to continuously be online--only if they want to save their game. Is it an inconvenience to users? Yes. But it is somewhat compensated by the "resume anywhere" feature, while "one user at any time" is only a stick.

And hey, I can lend games on Steam. I just have to lend the whole account at a time, and if I lend my account credentials, I risk losing the account. That's really all the incentive I need -- to limit the number of saves on top of that really serves no purpose, other than to save you disk space.

Actually, that's against the Steam EULA [steampowered.com]:

You may not reveal, share or otherwise allow others to use your password or Account.

The solution I recommended is better. With Steam, loaning is an all-or-nothing proposition. You can't play one game while a concurrent user plays another, even if you legitimately own both. This is not an issue if a game+saves is tied to a key instead of an account.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 5 years ago | (#27369299)

They stop casual copying from being prevalent.

It seems pretty prevalent anyway.

Many people are not willing or knowledgeable enough to go through the time/effort to download a torrent

Even those who don't use a torrent (for whatever reason, "not knowledgeable enough" seems unlikely) are certainly capable of writing the serial number on that burned CD.

In other words, it's a form of DRM which is easily defeated by a Sharpie.

it really doesn't require additional effort on my part

No, what wouldn't require additional effort is selling a digital download which came unlocked and ready to go, whether it was serial-locked or not.

Typing in 30-40 alphanumeric characters to convince the computer I'm not a pirate is pretty much the definition of "additional effort".

Now, granted, DRM schemes have gotten so absurdly draconian that this is a genuine improvement. But it doesn't magically stop being DRM when it gets to "acceptable" levels. Steam was acceptable for me years ago, while physical disk checks are not. CD keys are borderline.

But that's all personal choice. The only way a publisher can avoid pissing someone off with their DRM is to not include DRM. And as a show of good faith, it would help if they (and these Slashdot headlines) would stop claiming that something has "no DRM" when it, in fact, contains DRM. That's far worse than any "cloud computing" buzzword.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#27370155)

The key code stops the most casual of copiers. This is a desirable outcome. It does not represent any substantial hassle.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

Carrot007 (37198) | about 5 years ago | (#27369449)

And if it were just the serial key and no DRM, then using the same key would work and you could install it on your friends machine anyway.

Is this really going to be just a serial, or really remote authorisation?

Or to put it anotherr way, how DRM FREE is there DRM FREE?

I'm not even going to bother discussing if they should or should not use DRM, I just wish they would not lie to us about using it.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 5 years ago | (#27370917)

Without serial keys, anyone could just buy say, an RTS like AoE3 and install it on all your friends computers real quick so you can play together online.

Once upon a time, support for doing multiple installations from a single CD for multiplayer was actually provided as a feature in games, not as an illegal thing that needs to be stopped.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27371105)

Well you can still do this, I think LAN/direct ip games work fine, just none of the hosted servers like Battle.net work. I could be wrong though, maybe it won't let you connect to someone who has the same serial?

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (4, Interesting)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 years ago | (#27367967)

I agree with you on a theoretical level. But the reality of the situation is much different. The fact that EA has realized that treating their customers like criminals is not good business practice is a vast improvement and I can only hope that other developers follow suit.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 5 years ago | (#27368633)

And you know why they're realizing that treating their customers is not good business practice?

Because we're about to own their ass in court over their nonsense.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368767)

I wish I had mod point for you.

I think for some people, that code is also just a little reminder that "Hey, your NOT supposed to just give this to all your friends who didn't pay for it."

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 5 years ago | (#27369411)

For me, that code is just a little reminder that "Hey, we're still going to assume you're a pirate until you prove otherwise."

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (4, Insightful)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370163)

Seriously, a serial code is the most simplistic and effective means of copy protection.

One key = one install

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.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27370333)

I don't know of people who been hindered from doing legit things with their paid-for software because of a cd-key.

You've obviously never lost a jewel case.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370515)

I did. But I didn't blame someone else because of what stupid things I did myself.

Everyone makes mistakes and you just made the one blaming others for your own. If I can't care for my stuff enough to not lose a CD and a simple number written on it with a Sharpie, I either have money to buy the thing again or I'm SOL.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#27370221)

By purchasing the game you bought a membership to an exclusive club which can play it. The code is your proof that you paid. If you join a video club, they assign you a unique number. I notice that Slashdot assigned you one... do you complain about that?

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27367969)

Serial keys aren't all that bad. Are there any activation server overloads you have to worry about (ala: Half-Life 2)? Can you install the game in 10 years? 20 years? Heck, even 250 years if the media lasts that long?

It only inconveniences casual copiers. Pirates will, of course, have it cracked, but what does it matter to you?

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368173)

Uh? How can serial keys inconvenience casual copiers if there is no activation server? Without an activation server, the same serial key would work for everyone, no?

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 5 years ago | (#27368187)

Yup. Lots of pirated games come with a text file containing a single serial key, and that one key does indeed work for everyone.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27369037)

not since the 90s, they have keygens now

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27370759)

Uhh, they had keygens back then too, kiddo.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (3, Interesting)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 5 years ago | (#27368297)

Depends on the system.

(semi)Oldschool games like Soldier of Fortune, with PunkBuster etc, is sort of a self-serializing system, where you can toss in any key you want (thats legit) for offline play, but online play may not work if there are multiples of the same serial found.

Expanding on that, you could have it sort of like DHT [wikipedia.org] or the Kad [wikipedia.org] networks etc, where the serials get checked against found game servers online (player connects, serial is registered, and propagated to other users on the server, through them to a "known list" of servers, etc). It's not perfect since it uses resources/bandwidth in the background, but basically as long as there is at least one server online, it can continue after the "Official" servers disappear.

On the plus side, you can have subnets with cloned/illegal serials running in a tournament, because to that network they are all legitimate serials.

On the downside, resource usage, and also sort of (anti)idealistically, it makes the DRM viral, sort of feeding off the user-bases computers like a fungus or something. And also, someone can connect with a stolen serial while you are offline, and you wont be able to play online, which leads back into tying it to hardware, or an offshoot of Kad, a sort of GPS location based on ping times, neither really works unless no one abuses it, ie: almost impossible.

Although somewhere in the middle-ground, if it only applied to the servers you were currently playing on, not all known servers, it might be enough of a pain for the devs/dists to consider it viable DRM, and still be quite usable from the users perspective because the servers can take care of their own sort of CAPTCHA to see if it's the user they are familiar with, if not, then boot the cloner etc... and at the same time, really popular servers might make more people buy the game so they can play on those servers.

I'm not really trying to promote the idea, but it is possible, but i've already babbled on too long... all in all DRM sucks, but "simple serials" including it's problems, is far preferable to shit like SecuROM, serials can (usually) be bypassed just as easily as SecuROM nonsense, except it iliminates the the (direct) fascist shit that SecuROM and the likes do to your hardware and software.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

LoadWB (592248) | about 5 years ago | (#27368551)

Maybe we just go back to dongles. I work with several applications that require a USB key with encrypted information on it.

This presents several advantages for the vendor and the customer alike. For the vendor, it allows them to serialize their software, and in some cases provide updates for usage licenses for multi-user/network use. For the customer, it is quick and easy, resalable since it's yours. And all modern computers have USB ports, and will or at least should for many many years to come.

Of course, the down-side as any joystick dongle user from the dark ages of computing will tell you is once the company is gone and you lose your dongle, you are pretty much SOL without a hack.

Offline, the same caveats as a standard serial number apply. You can still hack the code, provided it is not extremely well protected.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | about 5 years ago | (#27368663)

That offers the same problems as requiring a CD in to play. You have a limited number of places to put it, if you have multiple games each one with a dongle you'll run out of places quick, or you'll misplace the dongles, or someone will break it.

And it would most likely be susceptible to the same kind of attacks that a no-cd hack uses.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370281)

You have one optical drive, but several USB ports right from the start in all machines powerful enough to play games. You can add up to 128 additional USB ports for about ONE dollar each in 4 USD increments - el-cheapo USB-hubs.

Scratching a disc is much easier than losing or destroying a USB stick. I mean, there are sticks available that can be driven over with a truck without losing functionality. How hard can it be to attach several sticks to a keyring and protect them? It's your money and USB sticks aren't breaking easily, so you either care for your stuff or you'll pay for a new copy. Even as a player, I feel little sympathy for people who constantly lose or destroy expensive items that aren't insanely fragile.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (4, Insightful)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370231)

Dongle checks present pretty much the same downsides as optical-media based copy protection and is probably worked-around as easily.

Unfortunately, companies complain about these dongles to be too expensive. But I like the idea of these, simply because USB-sticks are pretty tough.

You could also contain the entire game AND the copy protection ready-to-boot on a write-protected USB stick, making the game easy to re-sale, play, legitimately loan out etc. - if you have the USB stick, you have the game, the serial key and the means to run it in an instant.

Losing a USB-stick attached with a keychain is much harder than accidentally scratching the surface of a delicate optical disk, where every bad sector is an important input to the copy-protection mechanism. I personally bought two or three copies of Starcraft-Brood War because the copy-protection used there is non-standard and incredibly vulnerable to even the tiniest scratches.

Now that 4GB USB sticks cost less than 10USD retail, I'd thought we finally get ready-to-play sticks which include all and everything.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370183)

Serial keys with an activation server are bad. Serial keys with an offline-verification and an activation server for online play are pretty reasonable.

If the game still has online value, the online servers are still around. By the time the activation servers are deactivated, either no one cares to play the thing online (10 years from now) OR no one cares if everyone hosts cracked servers for cracked clients (if the company goes bust before that).

Well I think that's the idea (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#27368645)

I understand why companies want some DRM. There really are some people out there who can be foiled by it. Enough to make it worth the money? I dunno, probably not, but there are people for who it is an obstacle they can't overcome.

The problem is that because of that, they've deluded themselves in to thinking that if they just have better DRM, well then nobody will be able to copy it. Well, no actually. The pros will figure out a way to overcome whatever you throw at them, and they'll share their work. So more invasive DRM will just piss off legit customers.

So something like this could be a fair compromise. It'll still stop anyone that DRM is going to stop, but it isn't a real big deal for legit customers. I don't begrudge game companies wanting to try and stop people from copying their stuff, even if it is a futile battle over all, I only begrudge them making my experience bad because of it. If they can find a way to do it that doesn't affect me as a legit customer, I'm all for it.

Re:Well I think that's the idea (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 5 years ago | (#27369429)

There really are some people out there who can be foiled by it.

The question is whether these same people would be intelligent enough to use a CD burner, if there was no DRM.

So something like this could be a fair compromise. It'll still stop anyone that DRM is going to stop, but it isn't a real big deal for legit customers.

That's a good way of putting it.

Of course, I still find it kind of offensive, but it is something I can live with.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 years ago | (#27368843)

It isn't really DRM, in that it does not restrict you in any way. As long as you enter the serial code, you can play the game on any PC, install it as many times as you like, sell it on etc. You can even make backup copies of both the game disc and serial code. Oh, and you don't need the CD in the drive for it to run.

I'd say this is very good and welcome news. I know people who still love playing the original Sims game (ideal for laptops and older PCs), which wouldn't be possible if there was DRM and an activation server (surely now deactivated).

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27369093)

Nope, it isn't DRM. Serial codes for software have existed LONG before the term "DRM" was even around. Remember the old code wheels? Or "enter word 17 from page 4 of the manual"? Or shareware that would unlock the full version with a code (like the original Quake shareware CD-ROM)?

It's just a means for unlocking your game content, it doesn't interfere with anything, require an internet connection or install anything additional.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

rob1980 (941751) | about 5 years ago | (#27369957)

The only thing "digital" about the "DRM" of serial numbers is the fact that you have to use your fingers to type the serial in when you install the product.

Re:It's great that they lightened the DRM load. (1)

whiledo (1515553) | about 5 years ago | (#27370835)

In other words, the pirates' copies will have been already cracked to not require a serial key, or will come with a serial key generator.

Well, considering they said it will work like Sims 2, I believe what they really mean is that it will have a serial key and require the CD/DVD to be in the drive. Even with a legit copy of Sims 2, I hunted around for a crack for it because I didn't like the hassle of always having the CD in the drive. I never could find a good crack. They always only worked with certain version of the games that had bugs that you'd really want patched with later updates, or they screwed up the game in weird and crazy ways.

Never had any luck trying to image the disc and use subst or any of the other old standby tricks.

So, sadly, the whole CD in drive was very effective for them.

Believe it when I see it... (4, Interesting)

Dryesias (1326115) | about 5 years ago | (#27367885)

EA's track record isn't the greatest, but if they go through with it, it's a step in the right direction. Getting everyone pissed off with DRM then suddenly reversing your stance is good PR too.

Re:Believe it when I see it... (3, Interesting)

Starayo (989319) | about 5 years ago | (#27368289)

Damn straight. I put down a preorder for this game as soon as I heard the news - my sister loves these games, but I'll be damned if I install any SecuROM crap on my computer.

Re:Believe it when I see it... (3, Interesting)

ultranova (717540) | about 5 years ago | (#27368591)

I put down a preorder for this game as soon as I heard the news - my sister loves these games, but I'll be damned if I install any SecuROM crap on my computer.

Maybe I'm too cynical, but I'd wait until the game has actually been released and examined before trusting it to not contain malware. The word of someone who has intentionally attempted to cripple its customers computers isn't exactly trustworthy to me...

Woo! (4, Insightful)

somanyrobots (1334451) | about 5 years ago | (#27367891)

Could it be that EA's actually listening to their customers? This isn't a cheap publicity stunt like Ubisoft pulled with Prince of Persia; this is (arguably) EA's flagship product.

Re:Woo! (1)

Cheapy (809643) | about 5 years ago | (#27368255)

I think it's partly because the target audience is probably not likely to pirate anyways. Perhaps because they don't want to piss off a large group of people with DRM? A much larger group than would normally care.

Who knows. Just a conspiracy theory.

Re:Woo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368307)

I sure hope so. I wrote them a letter regarding several missed purchases on my part due to the bad experience I had with Spore -- and eventually a Sims 2 expansion pack.

What really pissed me off was the standard message they sent back referring me to their DRM policy basically telling me to repurchase the game to play again.

Suffice it to say, I just did without those, purchases. No pirating, no nothing. I just found other ways to pass the time.

I'll hold off on yet another purchase to see if it's really true, despite my love of the Sims.

Re:Woo! (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | about 5 years ago | (#27370195)

Considering who works on the Sims team (several people who are not fans of DRM), it may be a rare case of *listening to the developers*.

Those serial numbers are silly anyway... (1)

JoshDmetro (1478197) | about 5 years ago | (#27367901)

DRM or not after Spore I won't by anymore EA games. Just like when Metalica/Napster incident happened I no longer listen to them and gave away my cd's after I got complaints about copyright infringement from my ISP. And I had the CD's so there was no infringement on anyones copyright.

Re:Those serial numbers are silly anyway... (0, Troll)

91degrees (207121) | about 5 years ago | (#27368577)

DRM or not after Spore I won't by anymore EA games.

Why not? Surely the point is to teach them a lesson. A lesson they seem to have learned.

Just like when Metalica/Napster incident happened I no longer listen to them

Yes, dammit! These damn musicians wanting to be paid for their work as permitted by law! How dare they?

And I had the CD's so there was no infringement on anyones copyright.

Yes there was. You don't have the right to download copies of music from the internet even if you do already own the CDs.

Re:Those serial numbers are silly anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368679)

Oh look. A Lars Ulrich sockpuppet.

Re:Those serial numbers are silly anyway... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 5 years ago | (#27368799)

lol! Gotta love the groupthink here.

Because I disagree with you I must be obsessive about some guy from Metalica.

I'm not a 16 year old mettler wannabe.

still annoying (1)

fermion (181285) | about 5 years ago | (#27367909)

disc-based copy protection
Does this mean that the program is installed on the computer, but the game cannot be played with the original media present in the DVD drive? I have played The Sims on pretty minimal hardware, and I can imagine playing it on a netbook, with no DVD.

Re:still annoying (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370317)

Every game money can buy uses disc-based copy-protection nowadays. Everyone and their dog finds a no-cd patch, mounts an ISO file or uses a detachable optical drive.

Disc-based protection is pretty vulnerable to scratches and the discs themselves are not really scratch-resistant, so I'd rather see them employing USB-dongle based authentication. But whining about disc-based protection is soo 90's, really.

Well, I hate to say it... (4)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 5 years ago | (#27367911)

...but good for EA, so long as they follow through with this. I think a simple serial code authorization system has worked just fine for much of the software I own. It's never felt overly onerous to me. I keep the serial code safe right along with the install disk, and I've often (years later) re-installed and replayed those games. Simple, and strikes a reasonable balance between some protection for the publisher / developer and reasonable use for the customer.

And of course, I see a tag on the article "serialdrm". Seriously, no one is going to get much traction whining about "serial code DRM". At that point, I'm gonna call bullshit and figure you just enjoy complaining.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Dryesias (1326115) | about 5 years ago | (#27367935)

Only thing I hate about serials is losing them. I cannot for the life of me, figure out why they print it on those paper sleeves. Every serial key should either be on the damned CD itself, or at least use a plastic cd case and put it on there.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368031)

Then there will be people that go "Only thing I hate about cd's is losing them". Keep it in the jewel case with the cd and there you go. If you are super paranoid there are always sharpie markers

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Dryesias (1326115) | about 5 years ago | (#27368065)

You misunderstood me, by paper sleeve, I mean when the software ships without a jewel case and instead is stored in a cheap paper sleeve, which is easily ripped/destroyed/lost. Printing it on the CD or jewel case is fine, but printing it on a paper sleeve... meh.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370375)

Well, you take a Sharpie, write the serial ON the disc itself and put the disc in one of those fancy empty jewel cases that can be bought for ten cents apiece on Ebay.

Don't tell us you haven't figured this out earlier. You work in Sector 7-G by any chance?

Oh, and write on the printed side of the disc, not the shiny mirrory underside.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368105)

Personally, I keep my serials in a file called serials.txt. No, seriously. Although now I dump them on Google Notebook.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Phroggy (441) | about 5 years ago | (#27368451)

Save a copy of the CD key in an electronic form, the same way you keep track of other important bits of data.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 5 years ago | (#27369031)

I have a friend who has lots of bought-and-paid-for music software with serial numbers. He keeps the serial numbers neatly written down in a notebook, along with the date he bought them, where he bought them from and any other pertinent details. He's a bit like that.

He's never lost a serial key yet, though.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370389)

Sharpie meet disc, disc, meet Sharpie.

Then: Owner has key when he has disc. Now please report to work safety instruction in Sector-7G.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27369171)

Well, of course losing them is bad. But that's why I take out a sharpie and write it on the CD itself (as long as they've left enough space for it), the box, and anywhere else that might be useful.

A unique serial number is a pretty innocuous means to try to limit illegal copying. I'm completely fine with it.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (3, Funny)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 5 years ago | (#27367973)

Have you seen the kind of people who post in these threads? If they're not complaining about brief inconveniences, then they're claiming that piracy doesn't exist, or whining about Failed MMO X not being open sourced.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (2, Insightful)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370397)

And then they're whining about losing a serial key which can be written on the CD itself, dead-tree notebooks and in dozens of textfiles dispersed in backup drives and USB sticks.

How these people manage their lives without losing AND forgetting the phone number of their parents, friends and kids, the phone itself, their workstation passwords and their social security number is beyond my imagination.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 5 years ago | (#27368007)

It's not necessarily 'whining' about it like it shouldn't exist at all, but rather clarification.

The Title:
EA Won't Use DRM For The Sims 3

The Summary:
EA has made the decision to go back to simple serial code authentication for The Sims 3

Title != Summary

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (5, Insightful)

Dryesias (1326115) | about 5 years ago | (#27368043)

I don't feel you can really consider serial keys to be DRM. It doesn't limit your number of installs, no matter how many computers you install it on, you can resell your software, it'll never cease to function, it is yours. I really only consider DRM to be anything that makes so that something I purchase isn't really mine, as if I rented it, when I was led to believe I was purchasing it.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 5 years ago | (#27368349)

Neither do I, but technically it's still DRM, especially since why have a serial if its basically the same as clicking the icon to run the game, if the serial isn't registered somewhere externally, then why not just have "Enter Your Username", thats why offline-only games almost never come with a serial/DRM (although usually an "Insert Proper CD") because it's pointless, and others that have separate executables for Online/Offline, only ask you for the serial when you run the Online one...

If it's still registering to their main servers, and disallowing play on failure, then you are still renting it, at least the online portions of the game, they could block your serial, or shut their servers down, and you won't be able to legally play online, or you'll be screwed after a re-install.

The only time where there is a serial and it's fully yours, is like a forced registration, "go to our site and register to get your hash key" then you can enter the same key whenever/wherever after, because they just wanted your digital signature of sorts, either for market analysis or to send you junk in your inbox.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#27369313)

(...) if the serial isn't registered somewhere externally, (...) If it's still registering to their main servers,

RTFA. "To play the game there will not be any online authentication needed," Humble wrote on the Sims 3 website.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368889)

Either the serial key deactivates after one use or you can just publish it online for everyone to use.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370413)

No it doesn't - and hasn't for all those decades that serial protection has been THE gold standard of "DRM".

There's a large amount of wiggle room between three close friends trying to play online simultaneously with the same key and the serial posted on warez boards for millions to use.

If the server encounters a handful of instances of the same key, they're just denying entry to those instances that connected last. If the server encounters thousands of instances of one key, it disables the key entirely.

This has been standard procedure for decades and you claim you don't know?

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368923)

I don't feel you can really consider serial keys to be DRM. It doesn't limit your number of installs, no matter how many computers you install it on, you can resell your software, it'll never cease to function, it is yours. I really only consider DRM to be anything that makes so that something I purchase isn't really mine, as if I rented it, when I was led to believe I was purchasing it.

You're using a bad definition of DRM. DRM is "Digital Rights/Restrictions Management". Anything that deliberately restricts the function of the software in any way whatsoever to benefit the vendor at the expense of the consumer, and serial numbers definitely do that, is DRM. The crippling in this case is that the customer can't copy/backup/replicate over a network/whatever the software without an access code. Less invasive DRM than some but still there.

e.g. I bought a second hand, retail copy of windows 2000 on an original distribution disk I came across in a jumble sale for software compatibility testing. I discovered when I tried to install it that I didn't have a key code. Unusable without an illegal keygen. I wasted my money on what should've been a perfectly legitimate second hand sale. And no, it's not the fault of the original owner for not providing the key code he/she had, it was the fault of the original vendor for deliberately restricting the software so that it wouldn't run without a key code.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#27369359)

e.g. I bought a second hand, retail copy of windows 2000 on an original distribution disk I came across in a jumble sale for software compatibility testing. I discovered when I tried to install it that I didn't have a key code. Unusable without an illegal keygen. I wasted my money on what should've been a perfectly legitimate second hand sale. And no, it's not the fault of the original owner for not providing the key code he/she had, it was the fault of the original vendor for deliberately restricting the software so that it wouldn't run without a key code.

"So I bought this car, and it didn't come with the papers that prove I own it or the ignition key. I wasted my money on what should've been a perfectly legitimate second hand sale. And no, it's not the fault of the original owner for not providing the key he/she had, it was the fault of the original vendor for deliberately restricting the car so that it wouldn't run without a key."

The original owner kept everything important, he could keep using a backup cd and his key and Microsoft would never know he sold the original. So you got suckered like a moron and manage to not even blame the guy who suckered you. Head on over to digg, you're not even worthy of trolling this place.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370447)

That's 5 dollars well spent for quality, hands-on education in the black art of Caveat Emptor and one meal less at McDonalds.

If you paid more than 5 USD for a used copy of Windows 2000, you were out of your mind anyway.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27370795)

Ever lost a serial? Certainly feels like DRM when you have to either a) download a keygen or b) spend $50 more to use the damn game you already paid for.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

ensignyu (417022) | about 5 years ago | (#27368133)

Serials have existed long before anyone came up with the term "digital rights management". I wouldn't even call cd/dvd checks "DRM" even if they fit the strict definition. I associate the term "DRM" with the more recent, often insidious copy protection systems that require online activation, won't run if they detect a virtual drive, rootkit into your system, etc.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368057)

To me serial codes are not DRM. They don't exactly restrict what you can do with YOUR LICENSED copy of the game. You can play it on any computer you want. You can install it in 50 years. You can install it as soon as you get it without having to deal with activation.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27369069)

...but good for EA, so long as they follow through with this. I think a simple serial code authorization system has worked just fine for much of the software I own. It's never felt overly onerous to me. I keep the serial code safe right along with the install disk, and I've often (years later) re-installed and replayed those games. Simple, and strikes a reasonable balance between some protection for the publisher / developer and reasonable use for the customer.

And of course, I see a tag on the article "serialdrm". Seriously, no one is going to get much traction whining about "serial code DRM". At that point, I'm gonna call bullshit and figure you just enjoy complaining.

I agree!

Any time I want to reread one of my books, I have to enter the right serial code first, but I figure that this is not a big deal; obviously, my reasonable use of the products I bought and paid for has to be balanced against the wants of the publisher.

Now that my books don't require a wireless Internet connection anymore to verify I'm authorized to open them, I'm happy again. Seriously, that Digital Reading Management they had going there really was a bit of a bother, but obviously, a keycode I have to type in is no problem.

It's not like I'm being treated like a thief, a criminal, or a copyright infringer, after all. Right?

And it's not as if by shelling out money and *buying* something, I actually (ethically, if not legally) obtained the right to do whatever the fuck I want with what I bought and to be left the fuck alone by the publisher, too. Right?

DRM is not the only thing (2, Funny)

SupremoMan (912191) | about 5 years ago | (#27368061)

that stinks about Spore!

Ya no kidding (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#27368685)

When I heard about the activation limit SecuROM I decided I wasn't going to buy it. However I did try a friend's copy to see what I was missing. Answer? Nothing that I can tell. I really fail to see what all the hype is about. Now I only got to the tribal stage, but for a game as supposedly as "great" as that it should have been fun by then. It really wasn't, it was just some little mini-games, all of which I'd seen done better. I really don't get the hype about that game. You could offer it to me for free, and I don't think I'd play it. It just wasn't much fun.

Manual DRM (1)

Anenome (1250374) | about 5 years ago | (#27368081)

Remember the days when games would ask you the word on page 14, paragraph 2? Lol

I had this one game I loved, 4 colors, played on an Apple IIc, played it over and over, some AD&D game, it was truly great. Every once and awhile it would pop up these questions, and I'd lost the manual at some point! But, I loved the game so much I remember some and the others I just kept guessing and eventually learned 'em, until there was only like 2 questions I could never get, but it was still worth it.

Re:Manual DRM (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368179)

The island of Dr.Brain... I never owned the manual, and the at the beginning it asked you for the coordinates to the island, which are given in the manual. Eventually you just figured it out.

People will continue to figure out workarounds. It doesn't matter what form the hurdle is in, someone will jump it, and teach others to.

Voting with your $$$ works (3, Interesting)

Bonker (243350) | about 5 years ago | (#27368131)

After the Mrs. got stung with the various SecureROM trojans fubaring her system, she made the hard decision not to buy any more EA titles.

I was excited about Spore, but refused to buy either it or the creature creator pack.

Apparently there were quite enough people (who also spammed Amazon.com feedback, perhaps?) who made the same decisions that EA felt a bit of monetary sting.

Re:Voting with your $$$ works (1)

42forty-two42 (532340) | about 5 years ago | (#27368293)

You do know that the spore version on steam has no securerom, right?

Re:Voting with your $$$ works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368547)

Steam itself is DRM.

Re:Voting with your $$$ works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368875)

Steam = DRM.

Re:Voting with your $$$ works (1)

matazar (1104563) | about 5 years ago | (#27369377)

Are you sure?
I had gotten Crysis wars or whatever it was called through Steam. It installed all right, then right before I launched it, it briefly showed another install window. I can't remember it it said "Sony", "SecureRom" or I just checked to see what the last thing installed was, but sure enough it had installed SecureRom.
So, unfortunatly, I can't install and play that game. Since then I have refused to buy anything from EA.
If this story is true, then I will go back to EA.

its a way to decrease pirating (5, Insightful)

Blue Shifted (1078715) | about 5 years ago | (#27368209)

they probably recognized that the DRM actually encouraged us to seek out and download cracked versions....

Re:its a way to decrease pirating (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 5 years ago | (#27369289)

Yes, I've actually grabbed cracked versions of games I bought in order to play them from DVD image instead of having to insert a CD or DVD. I always considered that kind of requirement unreasonable.

Re:its a way to decrease pirating (1)

Bazar (778572) | about 5 years ago | (#27369723)

they probably recognized that the DRM actually encouraged us to seek out and download cracked versions....

They wouldn't have cared the slightest about that. The only reason they will have done this will be because of money. Plain and simple.

Now perhaps they have realised that their DRM efforts are repelling people from buying their games. I know i refused to purchase RA3 the moment i heard it had super restrictive DRM put on it

It could also be a ploy to get cheaper licensing deals with the makers of securerom.

Or perhaps its just an experiment to see what less DRM does to sales.

If you purchased the game and got it cracked later, they already got your money and couldn't care less. It is after all EA, they aren't exactly known for having customer satisfaction as a priority

Seeing is believing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368459)

I will believe it when I see it. Until then, Fuck EA. Just a money grubbing corporation. They don't care about their customer.

A move in the right direction for EA (1)

jools33 (252092) | about 5 years ago | (#27368469)

Well I will applaud EA for this decision - even though I hate the Sims and its add ons - this decision is a step in the right direction. EA has produced some classic games over the years. Personally I was seriously considering buying Spore - but didn't because of the limit on installs - that for me was a deal breaker - as I cannot count the number of times I end up rebuilding / reformatting my pc. I hope EA has really learnt to listen to their customer base - and that all future products from them will follow similar reasoning. I also hope other publishers are paying attention...

Uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368539)

Stock your bunkers, horde your guns and ammo, and prepare for the apocalypse because hell has frozen over.

EA is starting to scare me these days. Taking risks on new IPs, listening to their customer feedback, trying to actively help the gaming industry rather than absorb every facet of it into their hungry gellatinous form, and meanwhile Activision is quickly turning into the company we all love to hate.

When the hell did everything go all topsy turvey?

And as far as losing cd keys is concerned, I keep a .txt file with all of mine saved in there as well and keep a print out of that in my game binder. Definitely saves a lot of hassle.

Re:Uh oh (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | about 5 years ago | (#27370469)

They even announced a Patch v1.50 for BATTLEFIELD 2, a 3-year old game. They didn't deliver yet for several months, but hey, even the intention is much more than I've expected from them for years.

I'll pre order now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27368651)

I wasn't going to get this because of DRM - but I'm off to order a copy now :)

ohhh come on! (1)

Skylinux (942824) | about 5 years ago | (#27369055)

This is great news, I don't have a problem with serial codes as long as I don't need to activate the code and I don't get some sort of crapware installed on my Computer.

BUT WHY THE SIMS?!?!?!?

I would have bought your game just to support the serial code only design but I can not spend my money on The Sims, sorry.

I guess the reason is that the average adult The Sims player can not pirate the game or will fuck up their PC so badly in the process that they will never try again.

Anyway, great move. This will make me 100% happy and I will start purchasing games from guys again as long as they don't contain more then a simple serial code validation without online validation.

Now I need to perform my happy dance....

Re:ohhh come on! (4, Insightful)

oberondarksoul (723118) | about 5 years ago | (#27369353)

BUT WHY THE SIMS?!?!?!?

Because it's one of their biggest-selling franchises. If it sells poorly than hoped, they can play the piracy card and ramp up DRM on all future titles with a smug "We told you so". If it sells well, it may encourage them to relax DRM on other games in the future. It's a game that's likely to sell well even with piracy, so relatively low-risk.

Re:ohhh come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27370623)

BUT WHY THE SIMS?!?!?!?

Because it's one of their biggest-selling franchises. If it sells poorly than hoped, they can play the piracy card and ramp up DRM on all future titles with a smug "We told you so". If it sells well, it may encourage them to relax DRM on other games in the future. It's a game that's likely to sell well even with piracy, so relatively low-risk.

I'd argue that it's also because the target market for The Sims is less computer literate, and would be less willing to find workarounds for buggy DRM that renders their games unplayable.

Was casual copying all that bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27369811)

PC gaming was a lot more popular when casual copying was common. Imagine DOOM without casual copying? Would have been a popular game but not a huge phenomenon.

Some common sense at last (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | about 5 years ago | (#27369823)

My wife loves the Sims games, but there was no way in hell I was going to buy anything from EA after their crusade to screw customers who legally bought their game.

If Sims 3 looks good I might splash out on a copy for her, so EA have already increased their potential sales base. About time they saw sense.

horray! (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 5 years ago | (#27370329)

This is the best thing that EA could have done. Of course I don't actually believe it. EA must be pretty confident in the technological advances made in DRM in the past few months to try this.

If they get caught, it's gonna be the mother of all backfires.

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