chuft

DRM

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Does anyone know of a centralized resource where one can find out which versions of games have DRM, that is updated?

 

I find it very confusing to even research the issue. For example some companies appear to claim that their games have no DRM - yet they require some sort of online activation to install the game or get patches. I consider this serious DRM indeed, since if the company goes under, I can't install the game anymore or patch it if I manage to install it.

 

Other companies have DRM on some versions of their games (like the CD or DVD version) but I see their games listed as DRM-free on some download vendor sites. Of course, that leaves me wondering if the vendor themselves has some sort of DRM that will leave me high and dry if that vendor goes out of business.

 

Since I play a lot of old games, it is a major issue to me to be able to install a game, and have all the patches for it saved on CD, years from now even if the vendor is long gone. And I don't want nasty malware DRM software on my system either, or CD checks that require me to always the game disc in when I want to play it.

 

I read recently that Civ IV is being sold as a complete pack with no DRM. I don't know if this really means no DRM, or if it means some kind of "one time" online activation that has to be done every time you install it or want a patch.

 

Anyway if someone knows of a good site for DRM info on games, and info on new versions without DRM (Battlefront removes DRM from some of their games after awhile apparently, like Empires of Steel) I would appreciate the info. I am willing to wait for the DRM to be removed before I get a game.

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There is no one stop shop for checking DRM because, as you mentioned, even the same game can have different levels of DRM depending on when and where you acquired it.

Civ4:BtS with the latest (and final) patch is completely DRM free. No CD check or online check at all. The latest complete pack of Civ4 comes with the latest patch built in, and so has no DRM.

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Indeed, there is no one-stop shop. Especially since it can be changed with every release like PiMan says.

 

Reclaim Your Game used to be a good source, but they seem to have archived a lot of their old stuff. Implying it will not be updated? It's been a while since I last visited them. Looks like they are focusing more on advocacy now.

 

Trying to figure out what DRM is on a disc can be a royal pain. Most lists for discs seem to be sorted by type (e.g. "these are the games we know have securom v7 and above on them") rather than being comprehensive, and even then, they don't always list all the editions, since it's just buyer experience that most of them get the information from.

 

What I do nowadays is buy only through download services:

Good Old Games: No DRM. Gotta love it.

Impulse: Installs are DRMed by making you do them through the Impulse client; Stardock is typically very good about listing any additional third-party DRM, although not absolutely perfect (for instance, they do not list Dragon Age as EA Account-DRMed).

Steam: Both installation and play are DRMed, so YMMV on if you are even okay with the platform. Not always good about telling you about DRM upfront. But, between info on the store pages and this list you can usually know what you're looking at.

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So any game with Impulse can't be installed/patched if the company running Impulse goes under?

 

I was thinking of getting Sins of a Solar Empire or Galactic Civilizations II, but no way am I buying a game that can't be installed if the company goes out of business.

 

Steam seems to be the same problem: they go under, I can't install my games.

 

I wonder if Sword of the Stars is DRM-free. I see Amazon is selling a download of it, but it is not clear what the DRM situation is.

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So any game with Impulse can't be installed/patched if the company running Impulse goes under?

 

Correct. GoG is really the only acceptable download service if you don't want to be dependent on someone's servers. (I'm sure Stardock'd tell you they'll do something if they did go under. How feasible that may actually be, we really can't have much idea of unless one of these services does go under.)

 

Steam seems to be the same problem: they go under, I can't install my games.

 

Absolutely. They go under, you may not even be able to play the ones you do have installed.

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I had an e-mail conversation with Battlefront about this situation, telling them how their online activation DRM was costing them my business, and was told they would release the games if they did go under. I informed them they could not do that, the intellectual property of the company would belong to the creditors in such a situation and they would not have the legal right to "set the games free." They had no reply.

 

A lot of the games I play today are by defunct companies. This online activation issue is a big deal to me. It's sad that the only way to get a game you can install no matter what is through piracy. I really want to support Battlefront and buy their products, but they make it a totally unattractive proposition with their online activation every time you install the game.

 

I don't use download services so I am not familiar with all of them, but I have seen some Battlefront games being advertised as "DRM free" when sold via these servers, while they are not if you buy from Battlefront or on disc. I am not sure what to make of this.

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I informed them they could not do that, the intellectual property of the company would belong to the creditors in such a situation and they would not have the legal right to "set the games free." They had no reply.

 

Heh, hadn't thought of that one.

 

Personally, my skepticism arises from the thought, "So do you mean you actually have that patch sitting around the office, waiting to go?" Because if the company goes under, it's presumably going to be bad times. People are going to be laid off/about to be laid off, and are going to have more important things to worry about than even releasing one last patch, much less building and testing it. I can see it getting distributed by the community (gaming sites, download databases, bittorrent) as long as someone thinks to send the thing out. But if a DRM-free version is not already prepared and ready to distribute, I'd have to imagine it would simply not happen - not in an official/legal capacity, anyway. And most games already have unofficial "patches," aka cracks; it's not like the developers would be necessary to make sure any kind of DRM removal exists.

 

I don't use download services so I am not familiar with all of them, but I have seen some Battlefront games being advertised as "DRM free" when sold via these servers, while they are not if you buy from Battlefront or on disc. I am not sure what to make of this.

 

I'd certainly investigate what "DRM free" is supposed to mean. Good Old Games is as good as their word about being DRM free, but I don't know of any other place I yet trust about that.

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Personally, my skepticism arises from the thought, "So do you mean you actually have that patch sitting around the office, waiting to go?" Because if the company goes under, it's presumably going to be bad times. People are going to be laid off/about to be laid off, and are going to have more important things to worry about than even releasing one last patch, much less building and testing it. I can see it getting distributed by the community (gaming sites, download databases, bittorrent) as long as someone thinks to send the thing out. But if a DRM-free version is not already prepared and ready to distribute, I'd have to imagine it would simply not happen - not in an official/legal capacity, anyway.

 

That's an excellent point, especially for older games whose programmers may already have moved on, and which may not have had a patch in years.

 

 

And most games already have unofficial "patches," aka cracks; it's not like the developers would be necessary to make sure any kind of DRM removal exists.

 

Well, I would be more tempted to buy Battlefront games if this was true for them, but to my knowledge there are no cracks for their eLicense games - maybe their games are just too obscure, or maybe eLicense is too hard to crack. Ironically, the fact I can't download a crack for their games acts as a strong deterrent to me buying them, since there is no way I can force the game to install if they go out of business.

 

I e-mailed GamesGate to ask what "DRM: Other DRM" means for their Sword of the Stars Complete Collection, I haven't received a reply yet.

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I believe for Steam it's a version of the client that doesn't require being logged in or online to play and update games. Since Steam games generally have the hooks to Steam built in, it's very unlikely they have a no Steam patch for all of those games. Just disable the Steam client so it allows running of the games.

 

Also note that a number of games distributed on Steam do not need Steam logged in, or even running to play the game. In fact you can launch the game the traditional game exe path. But there's no info beforehand which games do this and which ones need Steam running to play.

 

And lastly, if you kept all your Steam receipts, since you own a copy of the game the original publisher of the game cannot refuse your request for a copy of the game in another format if Steam goes down. So if you lose the Steam version (through Valve going under) you can demand a DVD version from the game's publisher.

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I believe for Steam it's a version of the client that doesn't require being logged in or online to play and update games.

 

I am not sure what this is in reply to, are you referring to a specific game?

 

 

Since Steam games generally have the hooks to Steam built in, it's very unlikely they have a no Steam patch for all of those games. Just disable the Steam client so it allows running of the games.

 

I have never used Steam so I don't really know what this means. By "disable" are you referring to a legitimate option or some kind of crack?

 

 

And lastly, if you kept all your Steam receipts, since you own a copy of the game the original publisher of the game cannot refuse your request for a copy of the game in another format if Steam goes down. So if you lose the Steam version (through Valve going under) you can demand a DVD version from the game's publisher.

 

Well, if there was a DVD version available without requiring online activation, I would just get that one in the first place, lol. The problem is some stuff like Sword of the Stars Complete has only been made available as a digital download, and never made on DVD. I don't think a DRM free version exists.

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I am not sure what this is in reply to, are you referring to a specific game?

 

It was in reply to post #4 where you said Steam suffers the same problem as Impulse.

 

I have never used Steam so I don't really know what this means. By "disable" are you referring to a legitimate option or some kind of crack?

 

By disable I mean a legitimate update to the Steam client so that it disables the online check and allows you to run games without the need for the Steam servers to be up.

 

Well, if there was a DVD version available without requiring online activation, I would just get that one in the first place, lol. The problem is some stuff like Sword of the Stars Complete has only been made available as a digital download, and never made on DVD. I don't think a DRM free version exists.

 

You can get SotSC from Paradox direct as a DVD. http://www.gameplayoutlet.com/us_store/sword-of-the-stars-complete-collection-14.html

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It was in reply to post #4 where you said Steam suffers the same problem as Impulse.

 

When you used the word "it" in "I believe for Steam it's a version of the client that doesn't require being logged in or online to play and update games." it sounded like you were referring to a particular title.

 

 

Now that's interesting. Amazon only sells a download version (with Amazon as the download service - something new to me). Usually if there is a DVD version of a game they will carry it. They don't carry this one (other than "1 new from $93.98" from a third party seller).

 

The Amazon reviews state "Purchasers of the download version are required to install Impulse, an online game-management platform, but it is not as obnoxious as Steam. " Now I am really confused, I thought Impulse was a Stardock thing, not a Paradox thing.

 

I wonder if the DVD version has DRM/Impulse or not. It doesn't say.

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When you used the word "it" in "I believe for Steam it's a version of the client that doesn't require being logged in or online to play and update games." it sounded like you were referring to a particular title.

 

No no, sorry I meant the actual Steam client itself. :)

 

Now that's interesting. Amazon only sells a download version (with Amazon as the download service - something new to me). Usually if there is a DVD version of a game they will carry it. They don't carry this one (other than "1 new from $93.98" from a third party seller).

 

The Amazon reviews state "Purchasers of the download version are required to install Impulse, an online game-management platform, but it is not as obnoxious as Steam. " Now I am really confused, I thought Impulse was a Stardock thing, not a Paradox thing.

 

I wonder if the DVD version has DRM/Impulse or not. It doesn't say.

 

Yes, Impulse is Stardock's digital distribution platform (Stardock is to Valve as Impulse is to Steam). I also wouldn't believe what all the Impulse fanboys say. I've purchased an Impulse game before and it required Impulse to be running and online validated to play and update my game. Which is identical to Steam. Also, with Impulse you can't turn the ads off (that I saw) yet with Steam you can.

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But Paradox uses Impulse too? Weird.

 

It is quite confusing reading even threads about Sword of the Stars patches, some people seem to be using Gamersgate, which they said is Paradox's distribution serivce, others are using Impulse (?) and still others are using Steam.

 

I have emailed the site selling the DVD (which is in Sweden, it is a "EU retail" version, there is no US DVD version apparently) to ask them whether it has DRM. Still haven't heard back from Gamersgate about their download version. Someone said you could burn Gamersgate installers and patches to disc so if GG went out of business, you could still install and patch the game. I don't know how reliable this info is, and no one is discussing the DVD version from Sweden or its DRM if any.

 

I just want a game and patches that I can install even if all the companies involved go belly up. :cringe:

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But Paradox uses Impulse too? Weird.

 

It is quite confusing reading even threads about Sword of the Stars patches, some people seem to be using Gamersgate, which they said is Paradox's distribution serivce, others are using Impulse (?) and still others are using Steam.

 

I have emailed the site selling the DVD (which is in Sweden, it is a "EU retail" version, there is no US DVD version apparently) to ask them whether it has DRM. Still haven't heard back from Gamersgate about their download version. Someone said you could burn Gamersgate installers and patches to disc so if GG went out of business, you could still install and patch the game. I don't know how reliable this info is, and no one is discussing the DVD version from Sweden or its DRM if any.

 

I just want a game and patches that I can install even if all the companies involved go belly up. :cringe:

 

Paradox is just a software distributor. They use various different systems to get games out. GG, Impulse, Steam, DVD. As far as I know it's true that GG games and patches can be installed off a DVD with no requirement for GG. I don't know if GG put DRM on or not.

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Well I just got an email from Gamergate. I wrote:

 

"I have never used GamersGate before.

I was on

http://www.gamersgate.com/DD-SOTSCC/sword-of-the-stars-complete-collection

and I noticed it said "DRM: Other DRM"

What does this mean exactly? "

 

Their reply:

 

That it is not a specific DRM provider on the game, like Securom. It has some game specific DRM , most probably a serial security from the provider itself.

 

Most probably? I know nothing more than I did before. Does Sword of the Stars require online activation or not? I have no idea.

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Paradox games (the ones I've gotten, EU2/3, HoI2/3, Knights of Honor, and others) have an installation serial number. None required online activation. I'd suggest PM'ing Nikolai as he knows a lot more about Paradox games than myself.

 

The serial number is also used to access advanced discussions and support at Paradox forums, though all the general discussion is public.

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Thanks. I am confused by the reference (in a review on Amazon) to the Amazon download version of Sword of the Stars having Impulse. Is it possible this is something Amazon added that Paradox did not?

 

By the way does anyone know anything about

 

http://drm-cops.org/

 

Oddly I can see (at least some parts of) the forum, but can't view the FAQ without an account.

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I've purchased an Impulse game before and it required Impulse to be running and online validated to play and update my game.

 

Which game was that? You do need to run the Impulse client if you want to download an update through Stardock (which for some games, including theirs, is the only way to patch). But I have never seen a game that needs Impulse running while you play. I don't think Impulse even has the capability to properly serve as an always-on client in this way like Steam can.

 

Also, with Impulse you can't turn the ads off (that I saw) yet with Steam you can.

 

Yeah, that is an annoying part of Impulse Now. I just turn it off altogether, which you can do in settings. (You can also just delete the Impulse Now shortcut from the startup folder.)

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Which game was that? You do need to run the Impulse client if you want to download an update through Stardock (which for some games, including theirs, is the only way to patch). But I have never seen a game that needs Impulse running while you play. I don't think Impulse even has the capability to properly serve as an always-on client in this way like Steam can.

 

 

 

Yeah, that is an annoying part of Impulse Now. I just turn it off altogether, which you can do in settings. (You can also just delete the Impulse Now shortcut from the startup folder.)

 

Interestingly, it was Elemental (only game I've bought through Impulse). ;)

 

Though, maybe being pre-release had something to do with it. But even after release it still loaded Impulse first.

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As an addition to Kloreep's recommendation of the site 'reclaim your game', i'd add this one:

 

http://forum.daemon-tools.cc/index.php?

 

I've not really used it, but it is often recommended along with the reclaim your game site for info on DRM in games etc.

 

----------------------

 

@Chuft, specifically in regards of Swords of the Stars, i bought SotS:Ultimate Edition(includes most expansions bar the last one) from amazon and it came on DVD with a simple serial number check system. Now looking at amazon again and i see you can get the complete edition on DVD and i would think this is also a DVD retail version with serial number check - so no online stuff required:

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sword-Stars-Complete-Collection-DVD/dp/B003KYT5BS/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295261437&sr=8-1-fkmr1

 

As to the wider situation with digital distribution and online only activations on retial purchased games, i agree with Kloreep's assessment in that GOG is the only DD provider so far that does it 'right'. Impulse/Steam/Gamersgate etc all have pretty top heavy solutions. Impulse does allow you play their games(so Stardock made games only: GalCiv etc) off-line on none internet connected PC(using the 'Impulse Anywhere' system), but it does require an internet connected PC to validate and generate some codes you can copy/paste over to a non internet connected PC.

 

If they did this system for ALL games sold through Impulse i would probably use Impulse. Steam is just the wrong side of the line for me personally, so really the only DD service i feel like using currently is GOG. Other than that i buy DVD/CD versions of Amazon or at retail(if they don't require online activations) and depending what i can find out about the DRM used, will then use something(like the 'SecuRom Begone' utility you can get from Reclaim your game) to remove any intrusive or potentially dangerous DRM.

 

But yeah the track that DRM has taken this last decade is one of the main reasons i've fallen out of love with most AAA gaming, and prefer 'classic' gaming over most current gaming. Still somehow i've managed to avoid falling to the dark side of becoming a pirate, as i have ethical issues around that also. A rock and a hard place sums up being a PC gamer pretty well imho ;)

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As to the wider situation with digital distribution and online only activations on retial purchased games, i agree with Kloreep's assessment in that GOG is the only DD provider so far that does it 'right'. Impulse/Steam/Gamersgate etc all have pretty top heavy solutions. Impulse does allow you play their games(so Stardock made games only: GalCiv etc) off-line on none internet connected PC(using the 'Impulse Anywhere' system), but it does require an internet connected PC to validate and generate some codes you can copy/paste over to a non internet connected PC.

 

Steam does this too, in offline mode. It does not require an internet connection to load and play.

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Interestingly, it was Elemental (only game I've bought through Impulse). ;)

 

Though, maybe being pre-release had something to do with it. But even after release it still loaded Impulse first.

 

Interesting. I have Stardock's own GalCiv2, and a variety of third-party games, and none require/launch Impulse or Impulse Now.

 

Maybe they've gone ahead and added hooking functionality, then; I haven't been paying the closest attention. Though, perhaps it's just some sort of automatic update check?

 

Steam does this too, in offline mode. It does not require an internet connection to load and play.

 

True, Steam does a pretty good job there. I have had it refuse to let me play off-line in the past, though, simply because I hadn't thought to run it on-line beforehand - not exactly something I could correct on the spot, and still not something I'd necessarily remember to do. So, Steam is something like 95% off-line success for me, while Impulse is 100%.

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My objection to Impulse is simply that it appears to require logging in to Impulse to install a game, whether it is for that comp or another one you are getting a comp-specific code for. If Stardock goes out of business, no login and no more game installs. Unacceptable.

 

Everytime I install Arcanum, or Fallout, etc I now think "Boy I'm glad these don't require Troika/Black Isle/etc to be around anymore".

 

Regarding GalCiv2 and the Ultimate Edition, I found this disturbing thread:

 

updating is linked to registration and registration is currently not possible for ultimate edition

 

The final post being blank is rather hilarious, I'm not sure if it was deliberate or if it was censored by the game company.

 

El_Cid thanks for that link, there is no such disc being sold by Amazon USA, just a download that comes with Impulse for some reason. I have looked on Amazon UK for books before but it is becoming clear I should do so for computer games too now! I haven't heard back from Paradox regarding whether the disc version of the Complete Collection has Impulse or not.

 

GalCiv2 and its expansions are still rather pricey for an old game. I have read some reviews by people saying GalCiv1 was better, does anyone agree?

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