Saved by SecuROM!

 By Shamus Jun 13, 2010 86 comments

I just installed KOTOR. I just need ONE screenshot for a comic I’m trying to do. But the program just refused to run. It would put up a splash screen and then silently exit. Eventually I got it to give me an error message:

securom3.jpg

Of course, I have no such stuff on my machine. But here we are. Seven years after the game came out, and idiot SecuROM is fumbling around in my future operating system trying to protect this ages-old game from “teh haxorz”.

I had better things to do with the last two hours than install a program that wasn’t going to work because the no-talent hacks at SecuROM would rather pretend they can do the impossible than simply quit their jobs and find honest employment elsewhere. Even when new, this system never protected anyone from anything. But honest customers will bear the cost of this wasteful idiocy, forever.

And no, I’m not going to go screw around for six hours on the torrents trying to pirate a game I already own. I’ve wasted enough time on this already.

What a stupid mess.

EDIT: Also, I’m now too grouchy to come up with a new joke. I blame SecuROM for this as well. So now when Tuesday’s joke sucks, you’ll have to complain to them.

EDIT II: It’s a twofer! The very next game I fired up:

me2_dlc.jpg

Commence with Operation Infinite Facepalm

202020206There are now 86 comments. Almost a hundred!


  1. Lex Icon says:

    I wonder, did the automotive industry ever have this sort of parasitic company leeching profits while promising impossible things?

    What about other industries? Is this unique to the computer gaming set, or is history already repeating itself?

      • Zaghadka says:

        It’s sad, but I think a lot of people who buy their games go to GameCopyWorld just to get the DRM out of their hair.

        It’s a bit like a speakeasy during Prohibition.

        • OEP says:

          I’ve bought all the games that I currently play, and all of them are cracked to avoid the annoying DRM.

          • Gndwyn says:

            Well, duh. What else are you going to do while your game installs if not surf over to gamecopyworld to get the No-DVD patch, so you can put the DVD in a drawer and forget about it?

        • Gildan Bladeborn says:

          I’ve long since lost count of how many titles in my collection that have gotten the GameCopyWorld once over – back when hard drive space was limited and partial installs were the rule, not an archaic oddity? THAT was when having the damn disc in the drive to play made sense. But these days there’s no such thing as a partial install – if you install a game at all, it installs everything and there’s nothing on the CD/DVD it needs anymore… except that stupid disc check. Which may not work… And depending on the program, might muck other things up…

          Yeah, screw that noise. I bought the damn game, I’m not going to keep jumping through hoops that ostensibly only exist to thwart people who are not me, that’s just stupid.

      • Greg says:

        Not that I disagree with the practice of cracking legitimately owned games, but haven’t you stated in the past your resistance to such a practice? My memory might be faulty on this point, but I can’t imagine the frustration of being stuck between ethical and moral conviction, and the feeling of being cheated by a software company.

        I would love to see this form the basis of an experienced points article, but I suspect you’ve already written that one in the past.

        Obligatory “blarg I own it on console”, which would be great if I didn’t own a pile of playstation 1 and 2 software that I can’t play because my ps2 was stolen last year in a break-in. If I were to buy a ps3 I wouldn’t be able to use any of it. At some point I’ll need to buy a ps2, but it’s hard to cost justify as I have a number of original xbox games I still haven’t found time to play, and the 360 is nice enough to run them. I genuinely hope microsoft continues emulating the original xbox on whatever their next console is, as the ps3 has soured me on sony.

        • Irridium says:

          Microsoft actually scrapped Backwards compatibility back in 2007.

          According to the official backwards compatibility list:
          http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/backwardcompatibilitygameslist.htm

          There hasn’t been an update since 2007

          Which pisses me off because Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, Spartan: Total Warrior, Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes, and Timesplitters 2 and Future Perfect still aren’t backwards compatible. Coincidentally, they are my favorite xbox games.

          Funny thing is, they said they would continuously update it until all xbox games are compatible. Another reason why you should never trust these companies.

    • Kdansky says:

      Cracking games is easier than getting the copy protection to work…

      I’ve made a habit out of cracking every game. It might just run better than before :/

    • (LK) says:

      Thankfully in some countries the right to back your games up also extends to having a right to break the DRM to do so.

      Not so in the US, but as long as it’s true somewhere there will be web sites to help you do so.

      If all you need to do is bypass a disk check, check gamecopyworld. They don’t provide anything to bypass serial checks or authentication DRM, but they have executables for games with disc checks that are great for bypassing older versions of SecuROM which are, indeed, buggy little shits.

  2. Zukhramm says:

    The concept of the DRM refusing you to play because you have some image mounting software is is so strange, it’s no longer only keeping you from the game, it’s outright paranoid.

    • Jarenth says:

      Or in this case, DRM refusing you access because they think you have image mounting software installed.

      Guilty until proven innocent.

      • Rob Maguire says:

        Oh, it gets worse. SecuROM will fail if you have other kinds of software installed, not just disc emulation. My problems were with Process Explorer, a (Microsoft-written!) Task Manager replacement that gives low-level details on every running process.

        Apparently, crackers could use this to see how SecuROM’s checks work, so their response was to block everyone who uses the program. Just like with every other legitimate tool they block.

        I’ve also heard (but not personally verified) that it blocks some debuggers as well.

        Guilty until proven innocent? Guilty and never given a chance to prove innocence, more like.

        What’s sad is that even with all the bugs, crashes, memory bloats, false positives, etc SecuROM has, it’s still not the worst DRM out there.

        • Greg says:

          Given Shamus’ day job, I suspect it’s freaking out over the presence of development tools, but doesn’t have the right error message for them.

          An alternative, terrible thought is that some emulation environment like dos4gw or whatever Good Old Games uses to encapsulate ancient dos games could be tripping the alarm.

    • Hugo Sanchez says:

      Well, Hiding Daemon Tools from Securom isn’t all that hard with YASU, though the built-in features are hit and miss. Still It’s stupid that if you have it, you can’t play your game.

      After all, Image Mounting software is not illegitimate itself.

  3. DosFreak says:

    Agreed. Before I buy any game I verify that a crack is available for it and that it actually works.

    It’s the only way to game on the PC (except of course for buying DRM free games).

    If you don’t do either of the above then you are eventually in for a world of hurt when you try to play YOUR purchased games.

    • (LK) says:

      Though sometimes you get a developer who decides to be a douche and break the game if you crack it.

      Not every person who couldn’t use the internet café in GTA IV or jump in Arkham Asylum was a pirate. Plenty of people do just crack this stuff after they buy it to save some hassle.

  4. Irridium says:

    I get that Mass Effect 2 error message all the time.

    It still lets me load my game, with DLC and everything.
    And if that doesn’t work I just sign out/sign back into the EA account.

    Still, it should not be like this. Its just silly.

    Here’s how I see it going down:

    *Deep in the bowels of the corporations*
    Lackey: “Sir, it seems our heavy DRM isn’t stopping pirates! Apparently DRM has no effect on piracy at all!”

    Suit: “Hm… what about that game we released with no DRM? As a challange?”

    Lackey: “It seems that got pirated just as much. DRM apparently doesn’t do anything at all to piracy!”

    Suit: “Hm… oh, I know! We need HEAVIER DRM! That should stop them!”

    Lackey: “But you said that last time, and it didn’t work. And what about the paying consumer who has to deal with it? And what if this is illegal?”

    Suit: “Bah, there’s always more consumers, so who cares. And if its illegal just change our EULA to make it look legal.”

    Lackey: “What? Just because we put something in writing doesn’t make it legal.”

    Suit: “So? They don’t know that.”

    • Scourge says:

      Fun fact about Germany: If you can’t read the EULA before buying a game/service/whatever, and only can read it AFTER buying the game/service/whatever, is the EULA Nil and worthless.

      But yeah, nobody reads these EULA’S eitherway.

      • Irridium says:

        EULA’s are basically crap anywhere.

        EULAs are not contracts people need to stop pretending they are. Copyright laws are pretty clear in countries and all countries that are a part of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (almost all of them) share copyrights across boards and have the same basic protections.

        First Sale Doctrine (using the US example but mostly the same everywhere) means you own a copy of whatever material you bought. Inherent is the rights to sale the copy, and use the copy how you please. Think of a book. This is the traditional way to view copyrighted materials sold on some type of media, and the one I believe they should force companies to abide by.

        Software companies try to get around this by saying they are selling you a license to use their product, not a copy of the software. The EULAs are to that effect. However courts have held up in some situations where if the EULA was not fully disclosed to the customer prior to the sell (remember not agreeing means you can’t use it, and since you have to start to install it to see it you can no longer return the opened copy of the software) that the EULA is void that First Sale Doctrine applies.

        EULAs get a way with it mostly because nobody challenges them. At least in the US they have a track record of losing on many of the more restrictive clauses.

        Just because they put it in writing does not mean it’s legal.

        Sorry to go off like that. Its just this particular thing fires me up…

        • eri says:

          The biggest problem with EULAs (aside from the fact that copyright laws always take priority over them) is that they do not constitute a legally-binding agreement unless the user is given the EULA before buying the product (making it available online at some obscure web site isn’t acceptable either). There is simply no way you can make an agreement (i.e. pay money for the game) when the terms of the agreement haven’t been made clear to you.

        • Nobody particular says:

          Well, the 2nd biggest problem is that just about all software companies employ EULAs, even the open source initiatives do (GPL et al). While EULAs may not technically be binding, to my knowledge there have been no cases where a ruling was made disputing the actual contents of an EULA and chances are there never will be. Nearly all EULAs have a clause that states that if some part should ever happen to be found to be illegal (like prohibiting a backup copy), the rest of it will still apply. And besides, it’s just in the interest of too many big software companies to keep EULAs working.

          • Neko says:

            Actually, GPL is not a EULA. You do not have to agree to the terms of the GPL just to use the software.

            The only time you have to agree to the GPL is if you want to do something that you can’t do under regular copyright law; modify, redistribute, that sort of thing. By agreeing to the GPL, it grants you those rights (provided you follow the rules).

      • (LK) says:

        If you notice, a lot of packaging now responds to this by printing on the box: “using this software requires that you accept the Terms of Use and End User License Agreement, available at (website URL here)”.

        Never mind that you can’t be expected to walk out of the store, check their website, read the EULA and come back. The fact is they’ve made it available without purchase and that may be an adequate defense.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          There have been cases (in Germany) where the court acknowledged that a customer cannot always be expected to have read and fully understood all Terms and Conditions for a product, even if he was made to click “yes” when asked about it.
          This holds if the T&C are too far away from what he would probably expect to find in there … very vague, but still something. So if the EULA for a game you just bought says you’ll have to wash the Publisher’s car, that part of it is void, even if you had the possibility to read it before the sale and have confirmed you read and understood everything.

          In earlier days, Microsoft put these stickers on their CDs: “By breaking his seal you accept the enclosed Terms and Conditions” — that was really clever … I think the reason why most EULAs are still written in capital letters is to discourage people from reading them.

        • Steve C says:

          It isn’t any sort of defense. It’s just another load of nonsense. The record companies tried that with those free CDs that had “promotional use only, not for resale” stickers on them. The courts ruled that the sticker is worthless and yes you can sell them.

          You can’t enter into a contract with a store when you buy something where the entirety of the consideration is an offer to enter into a contract with someone else.

          The real defense that scumbag lawyers use with EULA’s in -some- (not all) jurisdictions in the USA is that when you load software regardless if you paid for it or not is that EVERYONE is making an illegal copy of that software in RAM. They claim that’s what they are offering you when they offer you the EULA… access to the copy in RAM. That’s the defense they use.

          I guess the copy you made onto your hard drive and the one in the video card’s RAM and the yet another copy in cache and the one on your RAID drive and the one you see on the monitor are ALL still illegal in their eyes. (Lawyers are morons who don’t understand how a computer works.)

          Sane jurisdictions (which includes most of the Berne Convention) excludes unfixed transient copies from copyright law entirely.

      • That’s true all across the EU (although the UK and Germany have slightly more onerous statutory rights – onerous from the point of the distributor, that is. They’re really quite friendly from the point of view of a consumer…)

        It’s a bit like Xbox Live and it’s downloadable content disclaimer “no refunds allowed”. Really, even if it doesn’t work as advertised? I think not, Xbox UK.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The worst thing here is that its mostly the name that makes pirates attack some software.I always love to refer to example of spore versus twilight of the arnor.First was on torrent sites a few days before its release in some countries,the second wasnt there for almost half a year.Yet twilight of the arnor has no drm at all.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Popularity of a product seems to have a major effect on the piracy rates as far as I’ve seen (although Spore was a bit of a special case).

        If you look at the lists of the most popular torrent files on these sites, they will mirror the popularity of various games/films etc..

        Marketing and publicity makes people want things, and there are those who will get those products without paying for them.

        • Arquinsiel says:

          There’s also the hacker’s manifesto to consider. They don’t see a game as something to steal, they see DRM as a challenge to overcome. The tougher the DRM the more respect they get from their peers by posting proof that they did it. If the disc has copy protection of some kind then posting a torrent of the image file is the same thing. The end result is the harder the DRM companies work to beat the pirates, the harder the hackers work to beat the DRM companies, and the pirates sit back and get free games either way.

  5. Sekundaari says:

    Based on the title, I was honestly expecting the age-old story: The protagonist of this blog must join forces with his arch-nemesis faced by a mutual threat, or perhaps out of sympathy for the nemesis. Together they defeat their foe, before somehow returning to the status quo.

    I’m a bit disappointed now.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well,in a way,it could happen:Shamus has no likes for pirates,and is hostile towards them.But he is not as hostile as towards drm.So he will download a crack in order to give us a comic,before returning to his futile struggle against both the drm guys and the pirates.Going the middle road is the hardest thing in this war.

      You know,it would be an excellent title for a book:”How Ive lost in the war between drm and pirates”.

      • Sekundaari says:

        Almost like it… but judging by rant concentration, Shamus’ arch-nemesis is in fact DRM. Though I can’t imagine whatever it could save him from, or why should they unite. Perhaps the lucre from all the DRM columns keeps his family fed?

  6. Steve says:

    I find it slightly amusing that the two “problem” bits of DLC are a bit of free content and something you get for having a legitimately purchased copy of another game.

    Of course, if it was my Mass Effect 2 save I couldn’t access, I’d be screaming bloody murder.

  7. ps238principal says:

    My copy of KOTOR runs just fine.

    Of course, I purchased it through STEAM during a sale about six months ago. That doesn’t help you, mind, because you’ve got to do some kind of editing of various files to make screengrabs work, for some reason…

    • some random dood says:

      Does KOTOR (and KOTOR2) from Steam work under Win7? Please please please let me know, as my copy on the WinXP box has quit working (I think one of the windows patches did for it, and I haven’t really got the enthusiasm to try to get it working). And yes, it does mean that I am thinking of buying a second copy because operating systems fail to do the job that they are supposed to do i.e. run programs.

      • Moriarty says:

        I bought Kotor through steam and at least for me, it works perfectly under win7.

        Coincidently, it was also the second copy of Kotor I bought because my brother sold my first one.

        • some random dood says:

          Thanks for the info! Think I’ll see if my existing disk works on the Win7 box over the weekend. Otherwise, I’ll have to see if Steam have updated it for Win7.

  8. Yar Kramer says:

    Yeah … my strategy lately has been to buy a game legitimately and then actually play a cracked version, on the basis that absolutely nothing is worth the expletives I have to shout in order to deal with DRM. (I actually had to download a torrent of Devil May Cry 4, even though I bought a legitimate copy which is now sitting on the desk next to me, although that was due to some bizarro-”can’t read a file while installing” technical issue that happens to a lot of games and everyone knows about it but nobody seems to know what to do about it.) Feel free to mention this kind of phenomenon the next time a pro-DRM nut argues that piracy numbers are high.

    • Fists says:

      I also pirate and/or crack games I own, some of its cross platform though, I own fallout 3 on the PS3 but play it on PC and I crack most games eventually as I get sick of not being able to find my disks when I want to play.

  9. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Operation Infinite Faceplam failed.

    Authorization of account required to restart.

    Please consulted SecuROM FAQ.

    For what items on FAQ to consult, consult the FAQ for the FAQ at our uncompleted website for the out of date version that doesn’t help with the problem in any way whatsoever.

  10. Andy_Panthro says:

    That DLC thing happened for me with Dragon Age.

    I seem to remember being told that you wouldn’t be required to log into the EA/Bioware servers to authenticate your DLC every time you played, but it seemed to want to do it every time anyway.

    For older games I do love that there is a resource so fantastic as GameCopyWorld to allow people to get around the DRM measures that threaten to lock you out of legitimately paid-for games.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait…I think I have a crazy thought:You have no disc emulation software,but you do have a bunch of other games drms,some of which may act like that.So,this would mean that your old games drm is being hindered by one of the new games drm.Hilarious!

  12. Jattenalle says:

    It’s nice to see their promise of “Our authentication will always work!” come true!
    I think we should all trust the corporate suits a little more when they want to punish us for buying their games, clearly they have this worked out and the system is flawless.

    Clearly.

  13. Nyaz says:

    I get the “no DLC detected” with Dragon Age all the time, but after clicking the “load” button a second time, it always works just fine.

    And, scary thing, when I tried to play Mass Effect 2 yesterday, it didn’t auto-login to Cerberus-whatever! Ahh! I had to remember what my EA/BioWare/whatever-account was and type it in! (Okay, it wasn’t that hard. But I’ve never had to do it before.)

  14. H.M says:

    If consoles start acting like this, I’m just going to stop playing games all together

    • wildweasel says:

      They already do. I’ve been denied loading my Mass Effect 1 saved game because of my flaky connection to XBox Live. I’ve also been randomly booted out of my purchased XBL Indie Games because, as the game cannot connect to XBox Live to authenticate that I actually bought the game, the game defaults to Trial Version mode and instates a 30-minute play time limit.

      • Greg says:

        that’s nonsense.. i recently discovered I can play games on my xbl profile without internet, and it’s been a major frustration saver as I don’t have to hook up my laptop to use it now.

        At some point I’ll run the wires to get network connection to my xbox, but for now it’s a pain point. .

  15. bbot says:

    Images didn’t render in my RSS reader,since they use relative,and not absolute, links.

  16. Zaghadka says:

    Also see this:

    http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/wiki/UniWS

    Widescreen patcher, which is good for unsupported resolutions. I get 1280×1024 out of Kotor with it.

  17. Dys says:

    I think I can just about imagine the roiling fog of impotent rage through which you’re seeing the world after something like that, so you go ahead and vent. It’s ok.

    I would like to suggest however that the phrase ‘screw around for six hours on the torrents’ may be a little hyperbolic. It does often depend a lot on familiarity, probably one of those areas where a lot of background knowledge is taken for granted, but discounting the actual download time I’d generally say piracy is barely any more complex than a legit install.

    In fact, one of the reasons I do pirate some games is simply that it’s easier. I have little patience these days for screwing around making things work, and the path of least resistance sings a siren song. One of the reasons I like Steam so much is that to get a game, all I have to do is point at it and ask. A couple of clicks and it’s there. And it will invariably work first time.

    I think I’m not alone in that I’ll put up with a lot in the name of convenience. Unfortunately recently we’ve passed the point where legit games are more convenient than pirated versions.

    Anyway, I’m glad someone took the time to find you a solution on GCW. I’m sure Bioware will be releasing a legit patch to remove the DRM on that, any day now.

    P.S. – I’m pretty sure I’ve had Steam trigger a securom lockdown before. I’m damn sure Xfire has, more than once.

    • evileeyore says:

      “In fact, one of the reasons I do pirate some games is simply that it’s easier.”

      For me, I pirate a game to taste test it. If I like it enough to play more 1/2 of it, I buy it an toss it in the “big box of unopened games”.

      The only games I buy “sight unseen” are from Blizzard. But this “DRM-Not DRM” business with StarCraft 2 is irksome.

  18. Rutskarn says:

    Blood Dragon armor? Really? I think I came up with something like that for a D&D campaign. When I was eight.

    Perhaps to acquire this armor, you have to prevent the Shadow Legion Marines and the Deathblades from unleashing the Chaos Wraith.

    • acronix says:

      You missed the last part, in which the armor materializes in your wardrobe, behind the Loading Screen of Immersion Breaking that you can summon everytime you use the elevator.

      As an interesting note, the Loading Screen of Immersion Breaking was going to be a recruitable NPC (via DLC, of course), but was scrapped because they couldn´t find a way to make it less two-dimensional.

      • I liked that they ‘got rid’ of the elevators in Mass Effect 2 – by making the loading screen an external view of the elevator moving around the ship.

        That’s not my best personal definition of ‘we’re getting rid of the annoying elevators’, frankly.

    • (LK) says:

      In Dragon Age it does pretty much look like a middle-school kid took a normal overly macho set of platemail and made it “cooler” (read: drew a dragon on it in crimson, since they don’t know that dried blood is brown)

      I think the Mass Effect one looks even more ridiculous because it’s science fiction armor with a dragon motif; this is made more amusing because it looks like it was plucked from Crysis.

  19. Felblood says:

    Oh, I got this one on a number of different games over the last couple of years (KOTOR and UFO:Afterlight come to mind right away). It fills me with SO MUCH RAGE!

    Any time that thing pops up on a new game, it makes me with I could return this useless coaster. If I’m going to have to monkey around with Demonoid and DaemonTools (which doesn’t trip this error =P) anyway, why did I go buy the game?

    I wish I did pirate your games you paranoid jerks! You deserve to lose my business for this!

  20. somecrazyfan says:

    It takes 4 hours Shamus, not 6, good S/L ratio ;)

  21. tremor3258 says:

    I had this, it wasn’t so much disc emulation software on my machine as hardware changes since KOTOR left it completely confused – securom DID get me the patch I needed for it, incidentally (now if I could get KOTOR *2* to work properly and stop showing every body in Pergaus as a creepy corpse without face textures)

  22. wtrmute says:

    Heh. You should get a screencap off Angband or Dwarf Fortress and put the speech balloons in, pretending it’s KotOR. I mean, old games are all alike, right?

  23. Flakfizer says:

    How DARE you try and REPLAY a game instead of buying a new one. The sooner games are rented by the second from these poor publishers the better.

  24. Kel'Thuzad says:

    Had this problem myself on windows vista and 7. No software of any kind that might set off securom. I had to email them and they gave me a different .exe file.

  25. Rick C says:

    I wonder, did the automotive industry ever have this sort of parasitic company leeching profits while promising impossible things?

    Well, there’s all those nonsensical magic magnets and stuff that claim to make your car run better, but they don’t actually leech profits from the car companies, because the car companies aren’t stupid enough to force you to buy them, so that’s not a complete analogy.

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