For many PC gamers, the word “SecuROM” is akin to any foul expletive imaginable. The copy-protection DRM software, created by Sony DADC, has been a target of criticism due to accusations of violating consumer fair-use rights. SecuROM is generally used to restrict the number of computers that can run a single installed game by requiring online activation. Once the company’s server detects that a game has been authenticated a certain number of times, it no longer further authentications. Games that implement this system often receive backlash from gamers across the nation. The most notable instance of backlash was EA’s Spore, which led to the evolution-sim becoming the most pirated game of 2008.
The recent SecuROM firestorm revolves around Bioware’s Dragon Age 2. In February, Bioware stated on their forums that the game would not contain SecuROM DRM. It would, however, require online activation. Problems arose after a search by advocacy group Reclaim Your Game revealed SecuROM data in the game’s files. Bioware has attempted to calm down angered fans. In the currently 32 page thread on Bioware’s official forums, several developers have stated that the leftover SecuROM data is a misunderstanding. “We don’t use Securom DRM”, explains Fernando Melo. “We use a release control product which is made by the same team, but is a completely different product.” The reaction to this information was mixed. Some were understanding, while others voiced their disapproval of Bioware’s usage of any SecuROM programs.
DRM itself is always a touchy subject, and it can be fairly difficult to come to a decision on it. On one hand, piracy is legitimate problem. On the other hand, programs like SecuROM treat the customer poorly, restricting fair use as they see fit. It is incredibly naive and unrealistic to assume that stripping all DRM and authentications from future PC games will magically solve the problem. Then again, it may be just as naive to assume that even the most secure DRM will stop clever pirates.
The one safe assumption is that SecuROM, as a company, will probably never become a trusted name in the eyes of gamers. After years of incidents, the fact that just a name is enough to whip consumers into a frenzy is a pretty good sign that SecuROM is simply not a good choice for developers. It scares off potential customers and, as the Spore situation taught us, can lead to more instances of piracy. This is a perfect opportunity for someone to revolutionize anti-piracy methods by creating something that both companies and gamers can agree on. Sure, it will only last until the next crack, but its a start.