Most gamers don't care about DRM

Far Cry 2
In theory, you can install Far Cry 2 as many times as you like on three separate machines

The people have spoken, and while I'd rather never talk about DRM ever again, it seems to have become a hot topic once more.

Turns out the positively joyous Far Cry 2 has been lumped with the fairly insidious SecuROM DRM – hardly a surprise in the current Torrent-powered climate of piracy.

Within minutes, forum threads were buzzing like a faulty plug socket with users screaming themselves blue over the injustice of it all, and how they were never going to buy another Ubisoft game for the rest of eternity.

Now, this will undoubtedly be an unpopular opinion with some people, but honestly I don't think it's that much of a problem. For a start, the first page of the associated thread on Ubisoft's forums is dedicated to people complaining about being limited to five installs per machine, over three separate machines.

For a start, I'm dubious as to how many people need to uninstall and reinstall a game five times anyway, unless they have some rare form of OCD, and even if they did, a Ubi moderator popped in to point out that a properly completed uninstall returns the activation to the user. In theory, you can install Far Cry 2 as many times as you like on three separate machines, which sounds relatively generous.

More worrying is the fact that SecuROM reportedly takes issue with multiple DVD drives and Virtual Drives, even preventing 1:1 CD-R copying. Making you jump through a few hoops to play the game is one thing, hobbling the functionality is quite another.

The truth is, though, I don't know anyone who has reported these problems and our mailbags are hardly bulging with DRM complaints every month.

The only conclusion I can draw is that the vast majority of gamers don't notice or care when DRM is installed on their PC. All they know is that they have to keep the disc in the drive, just as they have for years, particularly as online registration will be silent for always-on broadband users.

Anyone boycotting the game and claiming that Ubisoft is going to lose anything more than a negligible amount in sales on one of the biggest game releases of the year has clearly been duped into thinking they are the centre of the universe. The noisiest, angriest people on the internet aren't always the majority and there's a fitting analogy that involves noses, faces and chainsaws that I could quote as well.

At least for Bethesda's sake it isn't going to have to worry about this sort of furore. Fallout 3 contains utterly unobtrusive copy protection – a simple disc check. Perhaps they're among the first to recognise the undeniable futility of the DRM war in the face of BitTorrent.


First published in PC Format, Issue 221

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