By Shamus Posted Thursday Feb 18, 2010

Filed under: Rants 105 comments

When you are asking to install system drivers with administrator-level access, this:


…is not good enough. Any installer – no matter how large or small the software – should make a point to inform the user what is being installed. The word “TAGES” conveys nothing to the user. I actually had to look it up on Wikipedia to know what I was about to put on my computer.

And while we’re at it: Why the crap is it installing a system for dealing with CD and DVD discs, when I’m installing a digitally distributed game with no physical media? (Funny how these DRM systems are so often broken or sloppy, yet their problems always create additional burdens for the user. The bugs and oversights are never in our favor.)

Whoever came up with this: Go microwave your face, you drooling imbecile.

For the record: The game is Far Cry 2. (Review copy. Wouldn’t normally put up with this much DRM for a game of this… caliber.)


From The Archives:

105 thoughts on “TAGES

  1. SatansBestBuddy says:

    It’s stuff like this that made me switch to being a full time console gamer; there’s no reason to put up with DRM aside from wanting to play on the PC, and there’s no reason for me to stick with PC when my games will look and run better on my consoles than they will my 5 year old desktop I don’t have the money or patience to upgrade.

    There are more reasons, but really, do I need any?

    DRM is a royal pain in the ass, and with each year it’s only getting worse; those who don’t jump ship now are either masochists or PC fanboys dedicated to toturing themselves.

    Also, Rock Band isn’t out on PC, so that was a big factor, too.

    EDIT: it occurs to me that this is just a pet peeve post that would have worked just as well in twitter, not a full blown DRM rant, so why I responded with a DRM rant is beyond me…

    1. Dev Null says:

      I haven’t given up yet, but only because:

      1) You can’t play the old PC stuff I love on a console.
      2) You can still buy a half-decent PC for not much more money than a console, if you buy a box of parts and put it together yourself. My last one cost me <$500 without the monitor.

      Which probably just makes me a masochist for wanting to play the old stuff, but there ya go…

      1. SatansBestBuddy says:

        Who says you need to throw away your old stuff?

        I play my old stuff on my PC whenever I want to, along with whatever indie game that catches my interest.

        I’m talking the new stuff, the old stuff is never gonna go away, and do you really need an up-to-date PC to play the old stuff?

        1. Monkeyboy says:

          I’m currently playing Sid Mieir’s Pirates! again and usually play NWN2, Vampires: Bloodlines, and the first couple of Call of Duty games. Only DRM is a disk check.

          Honestly there’s not a lot of new out there I’m willing to go through the hassle of “renting” in order to play.

        2. Bryan says:

          Who throws out old stuff? I still have games for my C64 from the 80’s that I like to play. They haven’t all been poorly replicated on casual game sites yet :-)

          Seriously, the only systems I modify are the ones that no longer work. Sure, I have 5 computers set up, but I can always play the good old games when I want to.

          Often, it’s the new games and their system-degrading DRM schemes that I stay away from. And it’s getting harder to find games without some kind of buggy DRM.

      2. Nyaz says:

        Hmm, my reasoning goes something like this:

        1. Can my computer run it at a nice resolution? (1440×900 or 1680×1050 are usually acceptable, the latter is my screens max res anyway)
        2. Does it have awful DRM? (Like Bioshock 2’s clusterfuck… or GTA IV for that matter)
        3. Is it more of a console game? (Example: Assassins Creed, GTA and Devil May Cry are typical “console games”, where having a mouse and keyboard is more problematic than a help, and a controller is more favorable)

        If any of these are insufficient = Console (in my case, Xbox 360)

    2. Chris says:

      “DRM is a royal pain in the ass, and with each year it's only getting worse; those who don't jump ship now are either masochists or PC fanboys dedicated to toturing themselves.”

      I hate it how the game companies complain that they are not getting enough sales on PC and “losing money” etc. and don’t see that they are creating the problem with rubbish DRM.

    3. Chargone says:

      of course, if you look at it a slightly different way, consoles are simply a more elaborate, and less painful (usually), form of DRM ( among other things.) that they make you pay for :D

    4. Mart says:

      You don’t have to play heavily hyped and marketed games from big-name publishers. Like a certain XKCD comic, just hold off 5 years before playing one! :D But the main reason I love PC gaming is the awesome indie scene.

      1. Veloxyll says:

        Except of course when authentication servers start being pulled down because lol only 0.3% of our customer base plays these games anyhow so you won’t be able to play the 5 year old games any more.

        Seriously guys. Complaining about declining sales while putting in additional after-release support burdens on yourself is all kinds of dumb.

      2. Galad says:

        I still can’t get Half-Life 2 to run on my PC :( Might be my 64 MB video card *sniff*

        1. Abnaxis says:

          I don’t care how much practice you have, It’s impossible play a shooter as well on a console as on the PC. It’s an entirely different experience, to me at least (and I have been playing on both PCs and consoles since DOOM). Same thing goes for RTS, which are a complete clusterfark on consoles.

          So yeah, my PC is where the shooters and strategy go, and I grab console versions of everything else.

  2. Moridin says:

    Wait, you’re getting review copies now? From working on Escapist, I assume.

    1. Shamus says:

      Actually, I do my review stuff on an independant basis. (Although I’m sure writing for the Escapist helps.) I have a relationship with a couple of PR firms and they occasionally make stuff available to me.

      I’m not yet to the point where I can just pick up the phone and demand free games. :)

    2. Jabor says:

      When I saw the “review copy”, I thought I might have hit the wrong blog by mistake. I’m now wondering how masochistic a publisher would have to be to want Shamus to review their stuff…

      1. Shamus says:

        I know. They must think “There is no such thing as bad press.”

        I keep trying to prove them wrong.

        1. Deoxy says:

          I have faith that you’ll eventually succeed, at least with some of them.

          Oh, and the little “TGIF” graphic up in the top right corner is awesome.

  3. Sean Riley says:

    The DRM issue sucks but I urge you — Be open minded on Far Cry 2. Really. Give it time.

    1. Shamus says:

      This is the first positive thing I’ve heard about the game. Interesting.

      Is there anything specifically that I should be looking out for? Any tips on where to go to see the game at its best?

      1. Sean Riley says:

        Just consider what the game is saying with its mechanics. Pay attention to what you’re doing as you play it. Far Cry 2 is one of the few games I’ve ever played that deliberately leverages its mechanics to serve an artistic theme; along with the narrative. In many ways, the story is told in what the narrative deliberately lacks, and many design choices seem frustrating at first but do have a point in that regards.

        If you’re not worried about being influenced by another review before you write your own, I wrote one here.


        Suffice to say, I think Far Cry 2 is one of the few games I’m willing to argue as being art — It’s not just trying to be a film with interactive bits, but trying to do something artistically that no other medium could.

        1. Sean Riley says:

          Now that I’m awake, a bit more clarification.

          Far Cry 2 is in many ways similar to Shadow of the Colossus: Both present the player with a rigged deal, and then let the player experience that from the inside. With SotC, this is in the numbers — You’re fighting to be given one life back, and to get it you need to take sixteen lives. With Far Cry 2, this is in the stated reward and the given reward — You’re told working with these people will bring you closer to the Jackal, but it doesn’t. In both cases, the goal is to make the player question their actions. Am I really doing a good thing by killing these beautiful towers of stone and magic? Am I really interested in catching the Jackal (which is very thinly rationalized at the start as a good thing), or is this all about the diamonds?

          Overall, I think SotC is a better game; it’s purer, which lets the message come across more easily. Far Cry 2 is a lot messier, it could have highlighted its message better at points, and the ending (most frustratingly) undercuts that message to a large degree by taking away some of your free will when the game needs you to retain it most. But it’s one of the few damn games even trying. And it did work for me: I had one point in the game where literally the message finally sunk in, and I had to pause the game, stand up and think about what the hell it was I’d just done.

          And it wasn’t even a plot point! It was just some random guard post next to a river. But there it was, and that was when I fell in love with the game.

        2. Neil Polenske says:

          I think I understand what Riley is trying to say (can’t read his review at the moment, lunch break at work ‘n all…), but I think some crucial aspects are missing from that game that justify the ‘leverages’ in the design choices for the sake of art. I will say it IS a game that DOES effectively convey a thematic point through it’s entire world rather than the standard plot/character/dialogue. Still don’t make it fun…

          Well…it CAN be. Taken in small doses…and with patience towards some game design problems.

          1. Sean Riley says:

            Yeah, I’m not saying it’s perfect. God, the ending in particularly desperately fails to carry through the theme to its logical conclusion, and is a disappointment of the highest order. But it’s one of the few games even trying to do something artistic in the actual cut-and-thrust of gameplay itself, since that’s hard to conceive and achieve.

            All I can say is this: Playing this, I found myself suddenly pausing the game and sitting back. My brain kept repeating one phrase in my mind, “Violence is a disease. It infects everything it touches.” And for the first time playing it, I understood exactly what that meant. This didn’t happen in a cut-scene, it just happened in everyday play.

            That’s special. That’s not something most games can achieve, and that Far Cry 2 even managed it partially successfully is phenomenal.

      2. Nick C says:

        It really excels on the large plains. You can get a sniper rifle and hunker down amid the long grass and just play with the nasty men. Shoot a few gas drums while you’re doing it, start a brush fire and it becomes nicely bleak.

        Tooling about in a boat can be quite good fun, in the jungle it’s got a nice Apocalypse Now vibe.

      3. Vipermagi says:

        (post-writing note: This doesn’t seem that positive at all. I really liked FC2)
        I liked the story *gasp* but I’m fairly lenient in that regard. Don’t do too many sidequests or you’ll get bored out of your skull doing the same thing over and over. Telephone poles can be interesting, but I probably did 5 or 6 over two playthroughs. I didn’t much like the weapons unlocking, but once you unlock that AS50, it’ll be worth the effort.
        The landscape was, to me, varied enough to not feel like a real sandbox. There were nice settlement-esque places (mostly filled to the brim with angry people), some nice hangglider spots and suchlikes. Too bad it took a while to get anywhere. The inhabitants seem to have some method of distinguishing you from everyone else (regardless of character choice), and zealously chase you. Everywhere.
        I somewhat liked weapon degradation, although some weapons seemed to explode too fast. Felt whipping out the knife when walking helped some. Could be paranoia.

        I don’t recall TAGES tagging along with my copy of FC2 (PC), by the way.

      4. Sean Riley says:

        As an aside, this is the best review of Far Cry 2 I’ve found. It’s a negative review — It felt the game failed in its goals almost completely. But, unlike most negative reviews of it, it at least can understand the goals were there. Most bad reviews of it I’ve seen treat it entirely mechanically. They don’t seem to realise it was trying to be more than Just Another Shooter.


        (I have one central point of disagreement with the review, which I won’t go into here.)

    2. Nyaz says:

      Yes, don’t do like me – pick it up used, play it for half an hour, get bored and trade it in for something else.

      It was probably an okay game, but I just never got hooked. They just sort of dumped me in the middle of nowhere, and I was like “Okay? Now what?” (also, you have malaria or something).

  4. Yar Kramer says:

    You know, this makes me sympathize a little with pirates who say “I bought it legitimately, but …” and hack the DRM away. (Yes, this still counts since you’re breaking the EULA.)

    And it still doesn’t work! (I did a google search and got a hit that said “Because this is TAGES, it’ll be 100% cracked” on the first page of results.)

    1. Avilan the Grey says:

      Actually it doesn’t, since the EULA has no legal standing, period.
      Personally I don’t really mind DRM, but then I guess I am one of the gullible masses. Basically it boils down to “I don’t like it, but since it never gives me any trouble I put up with it”.

      1. Jabor says:

        In the US, you’re still violating the DMCA.

        In less totalitarian countries, cracking games you legally own is a bit more of a grey area.

        1. krellen says:

          The DMCA is un-Constitutional horse-hockey.

          1. Shamus says:

            Oh look. Reverse-engineering has rocketed our technology forward, made computers a commodity, and given us ubiquitous computing. Clearly we should outlaw it as a way of putting a “please don’t steal this” note on intellectual property.


            1. Brian Ballsun-Stanton says:

              I’m amused by the various disclaimers that silly things are sprouting, especially the email disclaimers.

              When an e-mail threatens DMCA action if you “misuse” it, disclaims liability for viruses it transmits, and generally gets all frowny, it’s starting to feel like these words are a form of sympathetic magic.

              For all the good they’ll do…

  5. kikito says:

    Mmm I expected some angry comments about Ubisoft’s recent decision concerning DRM…

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      I don’t want Shamus to get a heart attack over it, so don’t mention the thing…

      1. KremlinLaptop says:

        I swear when I heard about it, every sphincter in my body reflexively tightened and I cautiously looked towards this place; half expecting that as soon as the page loaded hot magma would simply roll out of my screen. Raging hot magma.

        …Frankly the fact that the righteous ubisoft rage is on simmer makes me even more nervous. (And gleeful with anticipation.)

        1. illiterate says:

          PULL THE LEVER!

          1. LK says:

            Urist McBlogreader has died in the heat.

            1. Deoxy says:

              Wow. I don’t know which is stronger, the awesomeness of the spontaneous Dwarf Fortress reference the moment someone mentions hot magma, or the pathetic-ness that, while I didn’t quite think of it before the comment, it did seem like the natural thing to say in response.

              Wow, I’m a DF junkie. Did I mention that this site is the drug pusher that pushed me off that cliff? I think I might be bitter about it… if I ever manage to stop enjoying it way too much.

              Oh, and I’ll be putting up a post at the DF forums later lamenting having put a caged Fire Imp in a quantum stockpile with 400 logs. Lessons in DF are EXPENSIVE, aren’t they?

        2. Teldurn says:

          That’s kind of funny. Kremlin, I read what you just wrote and it seemed exactly like the type of thing I’d read from Penny Arcade’s Tycho in his rants.

          1. ps238principal says:

            Except it would be thrice as long and use the occasional word not in common parlance since the Louisiana Purchase.

        3. Patrick says:

          I was thinking the same thing. So far I haven’t much pure rage vented in Ubisoft’s general direction (other than on comments/twitter). However, their current proposal is so out there I wonder if people are still in shock.

          I do hope to see some well written angry prose about the whole situation though.

    2. Nyaz says:

      Ubisofts PC sales drop by 100%…

  6. krellen says:

    I don’t think programmers get enough training/instruction on communication. Error messages suffer from the same vague uselessness.

    1. GuiguiBob says:

      one basic principle in UI design is to never use terminology that doesn’t concern the domain of the application.

      Seriously now that computers are used by the majority of the poulation there ought to be a better way to present the problem to the person installing your game.

      This is unacceptable espascially since it comes from a big publisher.

  7. O.G.N says:

    And that is the reason I don’t own Far Cry 2. Well done Tages.

  8. Groboclown says:

    Just a guess, but I think that the install TAGES message is deliberately vague. Would you click “Yes” if it told you it was installing a system-level DRM driver?

  9. Monkeyboy says:

    See by caliber Shamus means both the size of the bullets…and..the size…of…….

    ….it’s a homonym.

  10. Colonel Slate says:

    Tages… what a… lovely piece of shitcake that was… I have it on Dawn of Discovery, which I purchased off of Steam, limiting me to 3 installs to a single certain place on my computer. I can no longer play Dawn of Discovery through Steam, because I have a portable harddrive. You see… Tages takes a picture of your hardware, if it’s different next time it runs, you’re down one install, since the drive letter on my harddrive changed 3 times, no more game for me.

    I think that if given the choice, I’d put up with STARFORCE or SECUROM, before I put up with TAGES.

    Also, Shamus, this is important, TAGES has a known exploited vunerablity that allows direct access to the kernel. Though, I assume you being a computer guy, are already quite safe when it comes to dealing with viruses and unsafe “things”

    1. MintSkittle says:

      Just looked up Dawn of Discovery on Steampowered. It does list Tages as the 3rd Party DRM on the right side of the page, as well as the 3 install limit. I suppose you should have known it was there, but then again, I rarely look at the sidebar myself when making a purchase through Steam.

    2. MintSkittle says:

      A follow up to my previous post, most games that I know to have DRM in them don’t list it there. In fact, most of the games listed on steam don’t have its DRM listed in any obvious place, except at the very bottom where it’s occasionally listed that an internet connection is required for activation, or you need Games for Windows Live to access multiplayer. There’s no listing of what flavor of DRM is being used. I find this interesting that of all the games I just looked at, only Dawn of Discovery has an official 3rd party DRM listing.

    3. illiterate says:

      Can no longer play at all? Or no longer play through steam?

      I would demand my money back.

  11. 1d30 says:

    Perhaps the game or the DRM lamprey come packaged with TAGES just in case it’s ever distributed on physical media. They’d be leery of taking it off without further testing to make sure that doesn’t break anything.

    If that’s right, it’s a balance between them spending the money and time to send you a clean package with exactly what you need on it, or just sending you everything and cluttering your junk with their junk. The choice for them is pretty obvious.

    1. Jabor says:

      I would suspect this is the case as well.

      It’s sort of like Hot Coffee in a way – it costs more developer time to actually go through and clean it out than it does to just flip the couple of bits that tell the DRM itself to not bother checking for a physical disk. And dev time is money.

      The guy I bought my latest computer off gave me an unused copy of Far Cry (on physical media) to go with it. I still haven’t opened it, because I’ve got better things to do than compromise my system that way.

  12. sebmojo says:

    I loved Far Cry 2 too – it helps to know its flaws going in. And to understand that getting from A to B is intended to be a big part of the game, rather than a grindy annoyance. Use the buses a lot.

    Oh, and play without music.

    1. Neil Polenske says:

      Understanding it’s supposed to be a big part of the game rather than a grindy annoyance doesn’t actually stop it from being a grindy annoyance. In fact, it actually ADDS to the annoyance.

  13. pkt-zer0 says:

    “Why the crap is it installing a system for dealing with CD and DVD discs”

    Similar to SecuROM, that’s just part of TAGES’ functionality. The previously mentioned ANNO 1404/Dawn of Discovery uses it to limit you to three online activations.

  14. Kdansky says:

    TAGES is just horrible. It managed to crash on my Windows 7 and had the nerve to require me to download a newer version from their website or else I was not allowed to play the Witcher. Guess what else I could download from some other websites which also removed this issue?

    It also has an interesting “uninstaller”, which does not tell you if it installs or uninstalls the program prior to execution, it just toggles the state of installation behind the screen. I guess this feat of larceny is not done for reasons advantageous to the customer…

    1. neothoron says:

      There should not be any DRM left on the Witcher – the official patches remove them, even for enhanced edition since the last one.

      1. Kdansky says:

        I played it quite a while ago, shortly after the enhanced edition was released. And even if the patches remove the need for TAGES, it still tried to install itself…

        1. neothoron says:

          Did you try refusing to install the DRM?

          1. Shamus says:


            It just boots you out of the installer. :)

            1. Theodolus says:

              You have probably already tried it but, have you tried running the setup.exe directly instead of using the autorun feature. Although the physical copy of Fallout3 didn’t use TAGES it did use SecuROM and running the actual exe file without going through autorun was supposed to keep it from installing the DRM. It’s possible that Far Cry 2 has the same workaround, though I wouldn’t hold my breath.

              Hrm. Now I have to grab my friend’s copy of that game and give it a try.

  15. Captain Kail says:

    I played Far Cry 2 for a couple hours, and I haven’t gone back to it since that time (because I’ve been bogged down by other things like work/life/better games)

    Far Cry 2 has a lot of good ideas, pleasing visuals, and great atmosphere for capturing the feel of Africa.

    But it’s so boring. You know that PS3 game, Afrika? It reminds me of that, but with guns.

    Except it’s not as awesome as that sounds.

    Also, I think it would have been an infinitely more hilarious game if your character had dysentery instead of malaria.

  16. Stellar Duck says:

    I thought it came with secuROM? I seem to recall that. Hmm.

    In any case, I think they removed the DRM as of v 1.03 or something. At least I can play my copy without the disc these days. And no, I haven’t just cracked it and forgotten about it. :)

    As for the game it self: I have a rather ambivalent relationship to it. Some moments while playing I have the feeling that I’m playing the greatest game ever, making my own narrative and changing the world around me by my choices. Then the game hits me with some of it’s stupid flaws like patrols or checkpoints and I’m back to hating it.

    I think the thing it does well is giving me a world to explore and tell my own story in. During missions I create little narratives that gives my character context and a purpose. And in a way I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    I know a lot of people hate the malfunctioning weapons but I think they are excellent at changing the dynamic. In one moment you are doing well, killing people and getting close to your objective. The next you are hauling ass out in to the bush trying to get your weapon fixed all the while you know that afterwards you need to dig that bullet out of your arm. I love that change in dynamic. The same goes for the malaria.

    The game, I guess you could say, opposes you on every front and never holds your hand; it’s a struggle to get “it”. But when you do it’s so damn good.

    The map is also one of those things I adore. I can’t count the number of times I’ve spent too much time looking at it and not paying attention to the road and paying the price. It feels real in a way that few games does. The same when you are on foot with the map. The fact that your guy is physically holding the map and you need to look at it created a sense of urgency to me.
    And then the game does something stupid and I’m back to raging at it.
    It’s a game with extreme highs and lows for me but I’m happy to have experienced it.

    1. eri says:

      Same here, I’m pretty sure that the game shipped with SecuROM… at least the retail version, anyway. Maybe the digital version is different, who knows.

    2. Mindstar says:

      Steam says:

      3rd-party DRM: SecuROMâ„¢
      5 machine activation limit

      and that was enough for me NOT to buy it.

  17. Sean Riley says:

    None of my comments posted seem to be showing, so I’ll repost down here. It’s a reply to Neil Polenske:

    Yeah, I’m not saying it’s perfect. God, the ending in particularly desperately fails to carry through the theme to its logical conclusion, and is a disappointment of the highest order. But it’s one of the few games even trying to do something artistic in the actual cut-and-thrust of gameplay itself, since that’s hard to conceive and achieve.

    All I can say is this: Playing this, I found myself suddenly pausing the game and sitting back. My brain kept repeating one phrase in my mind, “Violence is a disease. It infects everything it touches.” And for the first time playing it, I understood exactly what that meant. This didn’t happen in a cut-scene, it just happened in everyday play.

    That’s special. That’s not something most games can achieve, and that Far Cry 2 even managed it partially successfully is phenomenal.

  18. Steve C says:

    I don’t buy or play games on the PC anymore (excluding WoW) because I hate the bullshit like TAGES. I would like to buy older games (they’re cheap) but I still don’t because of DRM. Games with online activation are right out for multiple reasons. I’m on dial up but even if I could use something like Steam, I still wouldn’t because I find their terms unacceptable.

    Is there a list of PC games that won’t damage my system with DRM or require online activation etc? I don’t mean abandonware or warez, just a list of games that if I see it in a box in a store I can buy it and play it without jumping through hoops.

    1. MintSkittle says:

      Galactic Civilizations II, Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod.

      1. Jabor says:

        In other words, “Stardock”.

        1. Lockesly L'Crit says:

          In other words, “A developer that doesn’t know what a ‘single player campaign’ is.”

          1. Varil says:

            Doesn’t Galciv have a single player campaign? I recall playing it, even. Sins of a Solar Empire and Demigod though…yeah. They could certainly use some SP loving.

        2. Bob says:

          Don’t forget that if you install a Stardock game it might not have any drm on install but if you want to patch it you will have to install their impulse drm and ‘activate’ the game

    2. lochok says:

      They have a few DRM free game reviews on Reclaim Your Game – http://www.reclaimyourgame.com/ . Also a fair bit of information on getting rid of DRM after being infected with it. Note though – they focus more of Starforce and SecuROM.

      But a good resource for information on DRM nonetheless

      1. Steve C says:

        Thank you lochok! That’s the kind of thing I was looking for.
        A title here, a title there doesn’t do me much good. I wanted lists of games that I could print out and put into the car. I haven’t checked it fully but that site seems to be what I need.

    3. ehlijen says:

      Dawn of War: Dark Crusade came without any DRM beyong a keycode as far as I can tell. It’s the only part of the series that can be run without even having the DVD in the drive.

      The very first AvP had no DRM as far as I can tell. But I don’t think you’ll find that anywhere anymore.

    4. Bryan says:


      has a bunch, though many of them are tested-still-runnable older DOS games. Still, if that’s what you’re looking for, they say the games are always DRM-free.

    5. Nyaz says:

      Hmm, Blizzards games are pretty free from this (you do need to enter a serial key, though). Valves games do require Steam, but it is not much of a pain in the ass, all things considered.

      1. Ian says:

        Careful though. Starcraft 2 is apparently running the route of online required. Can’t see Diablo 3 being any different.

        They may have been good in the past but it’s a brave new world out there.

        1. Nyaz says:

          Argh, crap. Forgot about the Starcraft 2 online-thingamajig.

        2. Bob says:

          Looks like i wont be getting starcraft 2 then. snif :(

        3. krellen says:

          Well, Blizzard isn’t Blizzard any more. It’s Vivendi.

    6. There are usually a few signs:

      No DRM:

      It is clearly stated there is no DRM.

      System friendly DRM:

      It is clearly stated there is no driver or system changes. (some recent games uses a particular SecuROM solution/option where the DRM is loaded when the game starts and unloaded when you quit the game, and the DRM stuff resides in the game’s folder.

      Optional (if you don’t mind waiting):

      Some developers like Egosoft (X3 series) remove the DRM in a patch some months after the launch, I believe the v2.0 release comes without DRM.


      Some publishers may or may not use DRM, different publishers for different regions may add a DRM while another region does not, and it’s not always clearly announced.

      DRM warning signs:

      You must be admin to install the game.
      You must be admin to install the game AND you are told you have to reboot the machine.
      The fact whether the game has DRM or not seems not to be mentioned anywhere, neither on the site, the documentation or the installer.
      Instead of mentioning DRM they are describing a new user game account management system, or other similarly mysterious feature.
      The developer’s answer to questions about DRM before launch is “that’s a publisher decision, we have no control over that”.
      The game requires you to sign in/log in/set up an account/etc. before you can play or allow you to save your game progress.
      The game needs the CD/DVD to be able to be started.
      You must be connected to the internet.
      You need to enter a serial.
      When surfing the web (or searching google) for info about the game You see mention of the game being “cracked” or “no cd” being available.

      DRM free signs/or “friendly” DRM:

      It’s possible to install the game as a non-admin.
      When surfing the web (or searching google) for info about the game You see mention of the game and “no-cd crack not needed”.

      The ideal DRM that I would not mind myself is the following:

      After installation the disc is no longer required.
      It’s possible to backup the CD using your OS built in CD copying/using normal CD and DVD backup software, or alternatively you can copy the disc contents to your HD and unto a blank disc.
      No special drivers need to be installed, admin not really required except to do a “All users install”.
      Internet is not required. (except for internet play or downloading of additional content or in-game news services, or patches etc.)
      And that the manual or inlay of the CD/DVD box or the email from the digital download site or whatever, is a serial of sorts. You only need to enter this once, at game install when you will register the game with the developer and your account with the developer or publisher.
      An unregistered game will cause you to not get any extra downloadable content, no support, no internet play, no patches, not able to make posts in the official forum, and if you loose your serial you will not be able to log into your account to retrieve it so you are unable to install the game.

      PS! A note on the “serial”, it is entered during installation, it is only sent to the developer/publisher server during registration, and whenever you download content, patching, etc, if you log in to the forums or social site you are already using your account which already have the game (serial) tied to it, to make the game future proof (in case no more support or servers shut down) as long as the serial is valid the game will accept it, registering is optional. Sure there’ll be serial generators or fake serials that validate in the wild but then again, cracks for games are rampant today as well so no major change there. If still concerned with casual copying x months after launch, why not hard code a date check during install, so that if it’s less than a year after launch day then registering is required. That should handle the casual copying that could occur around launch. Still a issue with people faking their system clocks though, but doing that messes up the entire system in many ways these days so…

      A registered game should give you access to extra downloadable content, game support, internetplay/multiplayer (if available), patches/updates, able to post/ask questions on official forum, the registration allows you to get your serial in case you lost it when re-installing later, you can submit corrupted savegames for fixing if possible (the devs made the game, ofcoz they can parse the savegame to rescue as much as possible), game guide/walkthrough/cheat codes/command console, MOD tools, Game Editor/Campaign Editor/Level Tool, etc. Random registered owners win “stuff” in raffles from the developers/publishers now and again for as long as the game is still supported. Discounts on other games from the developer/publisher. Add your own ideas for added value for registered owners here…

      I’m pretty damn sure that such a system would not piss anyone off (not even Shamus), and would probably convince your average pirate to get a legit copy, unlike most current solutions that either piss people off, scare them due to negative comments on the net, cause people to search for a nocd, and provides no benefits for owning a legit copy at all.

      Ignore the pirates, reward the legit owners.

      Also, those that do the things in bold italics above get a leg up on their competition that does not, get a great reputation, and folks like Shamus will praise your solution. *grin*

      PS! Shamus, the next time you do a DRM’ish article (there can never be too many “The Ideal Copy Protection is “Value” for Money” articles) I’d welcome you to rip off any and all ideas/suggestions in this post, you reach way more ears (or eyes as it may be) through your Escapist articles and your blog than I’d do in years. :)

  19. sebmojo says:

    OOH OOH OOH sorry, just remembered the other thing that multiplied my enjoyment of FC 2 fivefold: The signs on the road junctions are dynamically coloured and will lead you to your mission target. Just go in the red (or blue) direction. The game never AFAIK tells you this, you just have to work it out.

    It is genius because it means you don’t have to keep stopping and looking at the map, and can just drive. Makes a big difference.

  20. tech_priest says:

    the DRM was why I didn’t buy Far Cry 2. Is it any good?

    1. I think that’s what Shamus is going to find out. Personally I hope it’s either horrible or awesome, as it makes for better reviews :P

  21. LK says:

    Oddly I just installed Far Cry 2 today and was not prompted with this message when I installed it (Win7, UAC disabled. Running as administrator… probably why).

    Of course I still cracked the game after installing it. I crack every game I own. It’s cathartic to remind myself these twats trying to punish me for playing their products are so impotent.

  22. Ramsus says:

    Wow…and to think I didn’t buy Far Cry 2 just because I didn’t care about another shooter. I really missed out on some aggravating gameplay and horrible DRM. Well that sure will teach me.

  23. MadTinkerer says:

    In other news, Interstate 76 is suddenly available on GOG.com. A game which long ago I had given up hope of getting an original copy of, let alone one that would work with Vista.

    So just wait a decade and hopefully you’ll be able to buy a legit copy of Far Cry 2 with no DRM that works with Windows Q (out summer 2017).

    1. LK says:

      Activision finally signed a deal with GOG, after publicly snubbing them for no particularly sane or business-minded reason. So, a lot of their best games, and the games they bought licenses to from other companies, are now being sold there! I picked up Arcanum the other week… after, similarly, giving up hope of ever being able to buy that game legitimately. I was saddened to see so much of Sierra’s old jewels locked away by Activision’s posturing and hubris. They’re finally letting it all out for sale again.

      So, I guess maybe we don’t need to wait 10 years. The stuff would have been on sale by sites like GOG years ago if Activision hadn’t been run by its… er… current crop of geniuses.

      1. Ian says:

        I love Arcanum. I still have my boxed copy. It’s one of those titles with a manual that’s an epic read in it’s own right.

        1. LK says:

          One of the big selling points for me was a PDF of the original game manual included with the purchase. It’s not really the same, but… it’s a nice touch.

          A gorgeous map, too!

  24. Mephane says:

    Just look at what Assassins Creed 2 is going to have on the PC:


    And all that while even big ol’ EA found that opressive DRM doesn’t help their sales figures in any way…

  25. Kdansky says:


    I found this funny, and it’s related. ;)

    1. Avilan the Grey says:

      Honestly I have not watched a single DVD where the trailers have not been skippable.

      The “FBI pages” and maybe the anti-piracy trailer they run some times usually are not, but that page is not true for 99% of movies.

    2. Thirith says:

      It’s somewhat exaggerated for effect, but yeah… The most annoying thing is anti-piracy ads on DVDs that are certain to have been removed on the pirated DVD.

      1. Kdansky says:

        Of course it’s exaggerated. I distinctly remember the first DVD I bought with such notices on them (Spirited Away), after having downloaded the movie way earlier. I found myself rather cheated as I was now forced to sit through minutes of getting told I might be an evil scumbag in multiple languages, and then confronted with the inferior subtitles compared to the ones the fans had released. I’ve not bought many movies since…

  26. Shamus says:

    Sean Riley: I don’t know why my spam filter decided to pick on you all of a sudden. Sorry for the delay in approving your comments.

    The level of spam on this site has skyrocketed for some reason, and skimming the moderation queue is starting to eat non-trivial amounts of time.

    1. Avilan the Grey says:

      Congratulations, it means you are now important enough to spam…!

      1. Irridium says:

        Either that, or he attracted the trolls and spammers from IGN and Gamespot :P

    2. Rutskarn says:

      Interesting. I’ve actually had an increase in spamwaves lately as well–maybe it’s just spam season, or something.

    3. Sean Riley says:

      Fair enough. Is it possible to put in a warning page, though? Something to let you know “Your comment has been marked as possible spam and will need approval” so that I know it’s not just a weird short circuit?

  27. Irridium says:

    I remember Far Cry 2. I bought it on my 360 after my friend told me about the DRM.

    Its a good game, just expect a LOT of driving. LOTS of driving…

    I’ve also noticed that it got better as the story progresses, but thats just my opinion on the matter.

  28. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    Never had a DRM problem with my Far Cry 2, but it was a disc version which once installed didn’t even need the disc and the activation code was only for the online multiplayer. Then again, it was one of those “Hot buy” 3rd party boxes with the flames and other stuff around the edge before the actual box art (hard to explain if you haven’t seen one of them before).

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