No Funky DRM For Fallout 3

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Oct 8, 2008

Filed under: Video Games 48 comments


Nothing more than the old DVD check we’ve gotten used to. It’s not ideal, but I’m willing to do business. I have other concerns about the game, but I’m content to sort those out myself after purchase.

* Assuming my poor aging box can run the thing. I can run Oblivion just dandy, so if they haven’t done anything foolish I should be able to play it.


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48 thoughts on “No Funky DRM For Fallout 3

  1. Jeremiah says:

    Wow, it’s a miracle! Now I just need to play through Fallout 1 & 2 since I managed to miss them when I was growing up. Hooray for Good Old Games!

  2. J SMith says:

    Thank god for that. No activation or online only patches or any of that bull. CD checks are not idea but at least I can buy, install, play and update this game in my offline home. :)

  3. Corsair says:

    Bethesda isn’t StarDock, but this will do. A standard CD check is only mildly annoying, at least they’re not under any illusions about who does and should own the game.

  4. J SMith says:

    “Bethesda isn't StarDoc” – Thank god for that as well, otherwise I would not be able to patch the game with their online only patches

  5. Deoxy says:

    Wonders never cease.

    Nice to know SOMEBODY in the industry isn’t engaged in auto-rectal-spelunking. Kudos to them.

    Unfortunately, I’m not in a place where I have the money to buy it or the time to play it (no, I won’t be pirating it). :-(

  6. Primogenitor says:

    Sounds like it’ll be available on Steam too, which would be nice. Hmm, what do people find less “worse”, Steam or CD-checks?

  7. Factoid says:

    At least Bethesda has a reputation for making LONG games. And they started with the oblivion engine, which I believe incorporates a lot of procedural terrain and character generation. So whatever they release won’t be a 6 hour tech demo. Plus the AI system from Oblivion that made the characters move around on a schedule and “live their lives” would be brilliant in a fallout context.

    I’ve been having lots of fun playing through Fallout again thanks to

  8. J SMith says:

    @Primogenitor – Steam as it does not let me transfer the game to an offline computer. (I don’t have internet access at home). If steam ever stops supporting a game I would also be left out of pocket as I would not be able to install/run said game. At least with a CD check I can install the game whenever and whereever I want.

  9. Primogenitor says:

    @J SMith – Provided you have a CD drive (e.g. how many new PCs have floppy drives?), can find the CD (and its not damaged), and can find the cd-key. ;)

  10. J SMith says:

    @Primogenitor – True. CD checking is not perfect but at least the onus is on me to keep this information and the CD in good condition and not on a service somewhere that somebody else may take down at any time and stopps me from installing my legally purchased game on my offline computer.

  11. DGM says:

    Very glad to hear this. I probably won’t get the game for two or three years (when the bugs are fixed, there’s a $20 GOTY edition out and I have a new computer that can handle it), but at least I’ll eventually get it.

  12. Jamey says:

    I love the Fallout series, and I loved Oblivion, so I’m definitely down for this. And @Primogenitor – That’s what NoCDs are for. I *will* buy the game, and I *will* apply a NoCD to it. Agree or not, I do not consider this to be “bad” behavior on my part. This, in effect, turns it into “my game.” Granted, if I uninstall it, I would still theoretically have to find the media/key (assuming it has one) etc. later on, but if I leave it installed I’m fine.

    What all the CD check proponents need to realize is that there are some people (like myself) that do 90% of their gaming on a notebook away from home. I don’t have a strong desire to carry around a CD case full of all of my games, on top of the 8 lbs of notebook I’m carrying. If they don’t want to “hassle a legitimate customer” they must be sure to meet the following criteia (in general, but especially for notebook users):

    1) No CD/DVD required
    2) No internet connection required

    Actually that’s about it. But that means you pop in the disk, install, and play. I’m with Shamus as far as where I draw the boycott line though. I’ll tolerate 1, and make the purchase, secure in the knowledge that 2 days before I bought it there was a NoCD/DVD crack available online. But 2 is a deal-killer, and they don’t get my money.

    As a side note to number 1, I am OK with a key. This at least prevents online abuse. But it should be like Battlefront II, they were smart on this one area in particular. You need a unique CD key to play *online* but any number of installs with the *same* CD key work in LAN play! This is the way it should be! They allow grous of friends to get together and play on a LAN with only one copy of the game, and those that enjoy it then go out and buy it. It’s free advertising! The fact that I’m sharing it as a positive experience is evidence that they made the right choice.

  13. DaveMc says:

    Jamey: I *will* buy the game, and I *will* apply a NoCD to it. Agree or not, I do not consider this to be “bad” behavior on my part.

    I don’t think you’ll find a lot of people around here who would consider that to be “bad behaviour”. I certainly don’t, for what it’s worth — not that you need my moral sanction, but if you want it, you can have it. :)

  14. Matt K says:

    While I applaud them for this, I’m not going to plop down my money on a game that doesn’t look good (or enjoyable) to me. In all honesty, if I need to spend my hard earned money on games I don’t like just to send an anti-DRM message then as far as I’m concerned the industry can burn. I mean while one of the two things I expect from a game is no online activation, the other is a quality game. And so I have no problem passing up DRM free or lite games if I don’t think they’ll be good and after Oblivion Bethesdasoft has garnered enough ill will that I will not buy any of their games at launch. Sorry for the rant.

  15. Facus says:

    no DRM?!?!!
    SOLD! Thats the best news I have heard in a long time.

  16. Adam Greenbrier says:

    Since I’ll likely be playing this on the 360 instead of on a PC, my main concern is with the quality of the game experience itself. I found Oblivion to be a bit of a lackluster experience for a variety of reasons, and I don’t want to see that happen to Fallout. I loved Fallout and Fallout 2 and am not certain that Bethesda will live up to the standard set by Black Isle.

  17. Radio Babylon says:

    up to this point, i was ambivilant about the game… but now ill buy it even if i never play it, simply because i want to vote with my dollars and support games without insanely restrictive DRM. im ok with *some* DRM… just not limited online activations… i dont want divx games.

  18. Loneduck3 says:

    I’m not a PC gamer. I’m glad to see that DRM isn’t the fast spreading plague we feared; however, I don’t have a computer to run it on. If I get Fallout 3, it will be a console version, which already was free of DRM. Of course, there’s no modding on consoles, but that was the case already with the PC version of the game.
    The point is, I’m waiting till I see how the game mechanics work. Oblivion still annoys me in this regard, so I’m holding off until the leveling mechanism is explained precisely and accurately.

  19. Jeff says:

    I gotta say, I got the Orange Box (it came with my Blackbird) so it’s the first time I got Steam. I’m fine with it, what with the autopatching and everything, and it’s easy to use. If I was on my laptop it may be a different matter entirely. I’m certainly not going to be lugging around the 70lbs Blackbird anywhere. (Even though it’s supposedly all nice and durable for LAN parties. I can’t imagine the pasty geeks who’d lug a desktop to LAN parties would be able to carry this.)

    My laptop’s wireless seems to be flaky, moreso than my desktop’s wireless. Of course, my router seems to be flaky too, but at least it hasn’t caused a problem with Steam (which somehow downloads so quickly it goes to plaid.)

    Of course, FO3 will be another example of industry BS and problems with the DMCA. I’m guessing everyone who can, will get a NoCD. (I certainly would, I don’t like either the noise or the wear on my CD/DVDs and reader.) Which is illegal (DMCA) and most likely will be used to measure “lost sales to piracy”.

    (Nevermind that knowing what I did back at university, I’m sure that at least 99% of end-user pirates on campus wouldn’t buy a game – no money.)

    PS: Fallout 3! Wooooooooo!

  20. Claire says:

    I’m dumping my gaming machine (under-use and poverty), so I’ll be picking this up for a console. If there’s any truly egregious flaw for which I want a mod *cough*oblivion-style leveled world*cough*, I will fucking cry.

    I don’t want unkillable NPCs (Thoronir is NOT unconscious. I beat him senseless with a warhammer for twenty minutes. He’s dead.), and I don’t want a world full of red-shirted level 25 highwaymen. Duh?

  21. krellen says:

    I just recently bought Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, which so far plays much like Fallout 3 should have been.

    It’s nice it’s without DRM, but I don’t consider Bethesda to be one of the “good” game developers. I’ve played both Morrowind and Oblivion. I don’t think they “get it”.

  22. Luke Maciak says:

    Finally some good news on the DRM front.

  23. BlackJaw says:

    I took some time at the most recent PAX to bug the heck out of some Bethesda developers about Fallout 3. Among other things they assured me they paid attention to auto-leveling woes of Oblivion and are not repeating them. The enemies aren’t exactly at set levels, but you shouldn’t see Epic Bandits either. Various regions in the game are designed to be at level ranges, so you can be over or under classed by bad guys. Quest related enemies work on some other systems.

  24. Rick Tacular says:

    I would buy FO3 just to send a message even if I didn’t have a burning interest in the game. And I’m sure that Bethesda even knows we’re going to get the NoCD crack, but you know what? They’re going to make a boatload of money from it, and because they’ve listened to us and our concerns, they win. And this round, so do we.

  25. @Loneduck3:

    If I get Fallout 3, it will be a console version, which already was free of DRM.

    Considering the Xbox 360 is a TPM system and the PS3 no doubt has a similar form of copy protection you’re really not dodging DRM by getting a console game over a PC game.

    The main difference between PCs and consoles in regards to DRM is that you don’t have to install additional (potentially insecure and unstable) software to use DRM “protected” content.

  26. JKjoker says:

    i dont get it, so they squish our colective balls with one hand, we complain about it, then later they decided to switch the hand with an industrial press, we get outraged, later on they go back to the hand and we sing and dance and throw pretty flowers at the developers.
    i dont want to sound too pesimistic but cd check DRM can be just as bad as the newest securom (check the entry on StarForce in wikipedia)

    anyway, the game doesnt look that good, most of the things i liked about Fallout are either gone or dumbed down so bad im afraid it will haunt me in my sleep, i suppose i might try it after i read a few long posts from the old Fallout games rip it apart but for now, mirror’s edge, project origin, persona 4 and prince of persia (and maybe 7.62mm if its as good as silent storm) among others have higher priority in my book

  27. Matt K says:

    @Ian, while consoles might have some degree of DRM the fact that you don’t have to have an internet connection to play coupled with the software not rejecting your system for some odd reason pretty much means I couldn’t give a crap about console DRM. No offense, it just doesn’t seem like DRM if it doesn’t affect my rights in any way to play, resell or lend out the game. I’m hardcore anti-DRM but only because it tends to affect my ability to use the game as I see fit. Things like CD checks while annoying are something I can live with so long as it just checks to see if the game is in the drive (non of the fancy restrictions on types of drives or disabling content, just simple play if inserted).

  28. @Matt K:

    @Ian, while consoles might have some degree of DRM the fact that you don't have to have an internet connection to play coupled with the software not rejecting your system for some odd reason pretty much means I couldn't give a crap about console DRM.

    I take it you’ve never had to fight with downloadable content.

    I wrote a post on my blog about what I had to go through to get the DRM that Microsoft uses for the Xbox 360 DLC to work after doing the unthinkable — moving my removable hard drive to another console. It wasn’t a fun experience and we never were able to get it working. I’ve even had issues getting Rock Band DLC, in particular, to work on my own console when it doesn’t have an active Internet connection.

    DRM in consoles most certainly can affect legitimate customers and that whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth. Prior to that, my feelings on it basically matched yours. Now, not so much.

  29. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Huzzah!And Im upgrading my rig next month,so I will be able to play it!Although…I think I should wait for you and yahtzee to review it first…Ever since red alert II burned me,Ive been very cautios.It payed of with HoMMV,or I would regret buying that one.

  30. R4byde says:

    Good news on the DRM, too bad the game will be nothing like the classics I love.

  31. neolith says:

    Finally a game I can look forward to. Bethesda just got them another customer.

  32. Matt K says:

    @Ian: You’re right I never had any experience with DLC. Actually until Sunday the most recent console I had was a PS2 (now I have a Wii, an anniversary gift). Although I tend to view console DLC the same way as super DRM, with trepidation. It seems my worry about DLCs going away were somewhat well founded. Not being able to back up said content was my worry which is why I’d never actually get it, same deal with the Virtual Console and such the Wii has.

  33. TSED says:


    I remember you, Shamus, screaming for a return to CD checks and now you backhandedly insult that as ‘not ideal but’? I know you’re elated and that it’s not the same level of StarDock but come on, give them some slack here. They’re a company (I think publicly owned but not certain) with a ton of stockholders that, chances are, are not gamers themselves. The stockholders don’t know all this jazz about piracy and that they essentially can’t be defeated. It’s the classic “management doesn’t know anything” problem. You can try to explain but they don’t want to listen, they just want their money. That they managed to get them to ‘compromise’ is nothing short of miraculous.

    I, for one, will be buying it on launch day for PC just to support its DRMless action. I strongly urge every one with a PC to do the same, even if you’d rather play it on a console. Just remember: mods and mice.
    (We’ll leave the fact that the toolset isn’t launching with the game for another day.)

    Secondly, to derail, I’m glad you finally got around to that e-mail (if it was my tip that threw you at this? I don’t even remember how long ago I e-mailed you about that). There is one from me you need to get to post-haste: I e-mailed you about NWN2 having SecuROM. I’d really look out for that. I’m really concerned SecuROM’s been sitting on your computer for a long time without you realising it.

  34. Shamus says:

    TSED: My position hasn’t chanced. I won’t but a game with online activation, but that doesn’t mean I’m HAPPY about CD checks.

    And yes, I’m sure I have SecuROM all over this thing. That’s another item that I’ll grudgingly tolerate, even if I don’t like it.

    Everyone draws the line in a different spot. This is tricky business, balancing ownership, security and convenience.

  35. ehlijen says:

    This is indeed good (in the sense of “wow, pompeji isn’t entirely covered in lava yet”) news, if true. But as far as I could tell, no actual statement of isurance was made in that interview. It was all just “something similar to…”, “we don’t want to hinder” or “piracy is a problem”.

    The suggestiong that there will be no additional DRM is there, but as far as I can see it’s no more than a suggestion at this stage. A suggestion with a lot of butt covering for when they might possibly decide to go back on this ‘promise that isn’t one’.

    Meh, I’m just too cynical somtimes.

  36. @Matt K: I shared your trepidation when I first bought my Wii and my 360 but my favorite games (namely, Forza Motorsport 2 and Rock Band) suckered me in, for better or for worse.

    Unfortunately for us it seems as though developers are steadily pushing for this sort of distribution model. All three of the major console developers are distributing entire games in digital-only format now. Sony is even starting to release PSP games like that (Nintendo is also trying to get into that market with the DSi). The way things are going the next console generation is going to have us download or stream all of our games. The only thing stopping that from happening now is the available storage space, especially in the lower-end models. With the price of hard drives plummeting I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that a console with an internal 500GB+ hard drive that requires an Internet connection to function would be out of the question within the next decade.

  37. Flying Dutchman says:

    I am going to pirate it out of spite, that’ll teach them not to use DRM!

  38. JKjoker says:

    TSED: youll be supporting the cd checks drm (not DRMless) AND the dumbing down of a loved harcore franchise that will never be the same

  39. MuonDecay says:

    Thank you for covering this news!

    I was strongly concerned about whether they’d sully this title with that nonsense and I’ve been eagerly awaiting an answer one way or the other.

    Now I don’t have to cancel my pre-order and pretend that it made some sort of successful statement (other than “aw crap, I don’t have a game now”)

  40. Scourge says:

    In Comparison the Copy protection seems like less hassle.. perhaps it is all just a ruse though.

    “See how bad Copy protection can be, be glad we only make a CD check and no online activation.”

    Along those lines at least.

  41. PhoenixUltima says:

    I really don’t mind CD-check DRM (as long as that’s ALL that it does – StarForce can fuck right off). Finding the CD/DVD isn’t a problem for me, and if I really don’t want to be bothered I can always just go find a NoCD crack.

    “But Phoenix, if CD-Checks can be defeated so easily, then why have them at all? They do nothing to combat piracy and inconvenience legitimate users!”, I hear you say. And, um, well… oh hey look over there it’s a pony!

  42. Justin says:

    The Fallout 3 system specs for the PC version are out now. My 3-year-old laptop can *almost* run it so 3-year-old gaming desktops should be fine (although I’m personally going for the PS3 version).

  43. Matt K says:

    Not sure if anyone will read this, but from what I heard from people who got early copies, the DRM used is SecuRom.

  44. Harley says:

    @Matt K:
    I just tried installing it today and noticed the same, namely the fact that I got the SecuROM error message because of Process Explorer, which is the exact same error I got from Oblivion.

    Granted, they claim that it’s usage is just as a disc check (as I was able to just run the setup.exe without a problem, without quitting Process Explorer), but I don’t trust it right now.

    I also dislike the “silent treatment” install I’m getting. No message saying what’s happening, I just got the black InstallShield Wizard window with nothing on it, I hear the disc spinning in the drive, and Process Explorer is telling me that their installer process is writing a lot of stuff to my drive, but THEY aren’t telling me anything, and that’s annoying.

  45. Magnus Vile says:

    Oddly, the protection is only on the setup.exe, if you run the Fallout3.exe it doesn’t even bother with the disc check. You don’t even need the disk in the drive.

    Running the Fallout3.exe on the Steam version seems to do the same, starting the game without bothering to wake up Steam.

  46. HeroOfHyla says:

    I noticed the same thing as Magnus Vile. However, you can’t access the settings menu to adjust resolution, etc., without the CD.

  47. Scampi says:

    Well…does it feel weird, being reminded of this post years later, after having been annoyed by the DRM in the form of Steam + GfWL (it DID require both, right? In my case, it needed only GfWL, lucky me…), the insultingly stupid main story? Not to rub it in, was just browsing through old entries and found this one.

    My actual luck: I never had to mess with being online, using GfWL only in offline mode. It never once desired to get online and I didn’t encourage it to think of such things.
    Also: buying the GotY Edition granted me all DLCs without being bothered to download them-especially Mothership Zeta was amazing.

  48. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    This game is not worth it on PC anymore because of GFWL. That service is dead, and there is no way to activate it anymore. Shame. Plus it was made for Vista so it can’t really run on newer systems. :(

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