on Jun 3, 2008
I know that I frequently bellyache about needing to enter CD keys. I feel I need to draw a distinction here:
CD keys are something I grudgingly accept. I don’t object to them the way I object to (say) online activation. I certainly wouldn’t forswear a game over a CD key. I complain about them in the same way people complain about those invincible plastic shells that retail electronics come in. They’re annoying and they waste a half a minute of time, but they don’t challenge my ownership of the goods inside.
When I moan about CD keys it’s usually because I’ve encountered a poorly-implemented one. One of my games here (I think it’s Unreal Tournament 2003 or 2004) has the key printed in a narrow sans-serif font, which makes it hard to differentiate some characters, which leads to repeated attempts. Ugh. Just as bad is if I have to enter it twice, for no dang good reason. I also hate if the sucker is hard to find. (I think it was Half-Life 2 that claimed the CD key was on the “back of the CD case” when there wasn’t one, and I eventually found the thing elsewhere among the boxed ephemera.)
But the problems really start when the CD key isn’t enough. When they want a CD key and the CD in the drive and SecuROM, then it can be said that the pirates are offering a superior product, while legit users are punished.
I’m writing this here so I can link back to it later, because it’s not always apparent to new readers that online activation is a deal-breaker, while CD keys are just an annoyance I enjoy complaining about.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.