DRM. Three letters that make every honest gamer’s skin crawl. It’s an acronym for “Digital Rights Management” and it’s present in almost every digital media out there – music, film & video, ebooks and, yes, games.
In most cases it’s non-intrusive – you don’t realise or care that it’s there – but there are cases where it steps over the line. Today is one of those days.
At about 14:45 I received an SMS from my local games store to inform me that my copy of Dragon Age 2 can be collected. I found this a little odd as it’s only scheduled for release tomorrow and as such I phoned the retailer. They told me that I can indeed collect my copy as they have received instructions to allow it as the embargo had been lifted. About twenty minutes later I get another SMS from the head office of this franchise informing me that it is indeed so.
Happy at this turn of events I head over, collect my copy, come home and install. It’s here where the happy story ends.
You see, the retail, non-Steam, version uses different DRM than that of the Steam version. It requires a CD-key (fairly standard) and after installation, an online authentication. The latter is called “Release Control” and checks against the date on the server whether or not the install has indeed passed that date and time.
Seeing as the game is only officially scheduled for release tomorrow, the check fails.
I’ve paid my hard-earned money and installed the game. I’ve done my part in this transaction, but now I have to wait for some arbitrary date to pass. It’s like completing your withdrawal at an ATM and a security guard comes over and tells you that you can only take your money out after he comes back from his lunch break.
The fact here is that pirates have been able to play the game for some time already. People who ordered on Steam have similarly been able to play for the past two or so days. The only thing that DRM has accomplished here is that it has successfully angered a loyal customer (again).
The only thing that could make this experience even better would be that instead of days of awesome Dragon Age 2, I get treated to Ms. Pac-Mac.