back to article EA: No DRM for Sims 3

After taking one on the chin for Spore's overbearing DRM protection schemes, Electronic Art's is going back to tried-and-true disc-based authentication for the next installment of the The Sims. In a post to the official Sims 3 website, Rod Humble, the man in charge of EA's best-selling PC franchise of all time, says the game …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Disc DRM is possibly the most irritating as it means I have to a: find the disc, and b: physically touch my computer. Note - discs are buried in the cupboard in the bedroom. Computer is on the opposit side of the living room. I don't want to mess around with discs after I've installed it.

    Unless maybe if I had like 100 dvd drives, I suppose that could solve my problem. However then my living room would be a bit too full...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Distant Future !?!

    "DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future."

    Is that distant future as in "already happened loads of times and on a regular basis". There have been many many times when EA's "Authentication" (DRM) servers have been down, preventing gamers (myself included on more than one occasion) from pwning the ass off people in BF2142.

    EA? SHME AY more like.

    I might start buying their games again if they play nice.

  3. Joe K
    Thumb Up

    "Taking one on the chin"?

    They took it up the arse more like, with bells on.

    Spore is still, by far, the most torrented game around. Its absolutely insane how many times it was ripped off, mostly out of spite, but often because it was just easier and nicer to have the game not install rootkits on your system.

    This is an amazing admission of failure, and the power of the pirates. I may even buy the game now, just out of non-spite.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I held out buying, and I'm glad others seemed to have done so too. By this I mean, I'm glad others cared.

    I do hate getting off my ass and changing discs, but I prefer it to this secuROM and limited installs. I don't even mind a one time online authentication all that much. I used Steam to buy Spore, in the end.

    The first Unreal Tournament seemed to have the right idea. The disc was required to download patches and updates, and of course for the first install. As a teenager I played that game all the time, because I never had to worry about switching discs. It may sound lazy, but when you have four different games on your computer, and you like them all, you go for the easiest.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I guess this doesn't matter as I was never going to buy the sims (or any EA game) anyway, but I think disk based DRM is still crap if it means you have to find the disk (unless you can just mount an iso)

    Better than the DRM shit EA include with their other games though.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    remebere when...

    i dont know about rest of you but do you guys even remeber how ea got started in first place?

    they really have to get back to the roots...

  7. Josh Hamilton

    But Spore didn't require the disc!

    I know people compained a lot about Spore, but I bought a copy on US launch day, installed it and it never asked me for the disc again, the game runs perfectly on both my laptop and desktop on two different profiles. It even updates! I don't see this as a problem and I have no idea why people were complaining that they could only install it 3 times. EA upped this install limit to 5 and even released a de-auth tool for systems no longer in use. This means that you can play one game on 5 machines at the same time on the same or diferent user profiles and still receive online content- with no disc required.

    I fail to see why people were 'up in arms' over this 'protection' method. The only people who would care are the pirates and since they had cracked the proteciton anyway, I cannot see why anyone complained at all.

    You really need an EEE PC Girl icon!

  8. B Ward
    Thumb Down


    No the people who did complain are ones who bought EA games only to run into no end of issues getting said games to work. I happen to be one of the disgruntled customers who does not take kindly to being ripped off.

  9. Kevin

    @Josh Hamilton

    The thing people didn't like was secuROM installed in the background and was ALWAYS running and does not uninstall after you remove the game. Remember sonys infamous rootkit secuROM essentially is the same thing it hides processes which the only way to completely remove is to waste a few hours trying to delete files and unregister dll's (which does not remove 100% of it) or just reinstall the OS after you format your drive (fastest method and only real way for a 100% removal)

    Now I personally could care less if the game called home once to authenticate after install or every 10-20 times its ran. but there is NO reason to have the damn authentication software running all the time and being unremovable and potentially screwing up other apps or potentially causing instabilities.

    Thats why people were up in arms over it. Now if you like that crap running all the time the pcs on its upto you.

  10. Heff
    Thumb Down


    Maybe ditching their asinine protection was provoked by a fistfight between sales and legal when they found out how many people _returned the game_ due to its fucking bad-mannered shenanigans and just pirated a version with all the crap stripped out of it?

    They went to such lengths to restrict my enjoyment of a product that came across as 4 graphically-similar flash games. Oh look, space invaders, but with blobs! oh look, Gene wars. Oh look, Civ/AgeOfEmpires! oh look, a really bad, corny clone of Elite!....

    ...and that was it. it took around 4 days to play it out and ditch it, in the end. the most irritating feature of it was knowing so many people would buy something that was so... grossly disconnected and limited.

  11. raving angry loony


    So the title is a lie then. There *IS* DRM, it's just not online. No problem, but perhaps the headline writer needs to be slapped with a wet kipper for being a lying git.

  12. raving angry loony


    No, Spore didn't require a disk. Instead, it installed a Sony-style rootkit that opens up your system to all sorts of extra malware. Not to mention the problems that so many paying customers DID have with the product. So just because it worked for you doesn't mean it worked for others, and doesn't mean it wasn't an utter piece of ill-thought-out shite.

    In other news, I hope you're still happy when EA shuts down the Spore authentication servers and all those who bought the game can't play anymore, out of nostalgia if nothing else. Unless they get one of the ones that had the DRM removed of course. Think they won't do it? Suuuure.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Josh Hamilton

    "I don't see this as a problem "

    "I have no idea "

    "I fail to see why people were 'up in arms'"

    " I cannot see "

    Your vision is clouded by the force.... your failiure is join me on the Dark Side and we will rule this Empire together!

  14. Anonymous Coward


    "Now if you like that crap running all the time the pcs"

    The usual uninformed, hysterical nonsense. Securom does not "run all the time", only when you fire up a game that uses it.

    I hate Securom, mainly because it's an extra layer of complication that can and frequently does go wrong, leaving the player unable to use the game(s) they've shelled out cash for. However, I really wish people would get their facts straight, rather than blindly assuming every copy protection scheme is a virus/rootkit/magical-pc-destroying-semi-sentient-entity.

  15. B3vil

    The whole truth?

    Several serial key protection systems have also included disc based protection which in many cases installs equally as intrusive processes, and software which prevents other software from functioning, forcing you to uninstall or disable it. (I'm surprised forcing you to remove somebody elses software for no actual technical reason is legal)

    No online activations, No background services, No disc based DRM, No forcing you to remove other software, and we could have a winner.

    A game should be playable out of the box even on a machine with no internet access.

    Doing a serial check for using their online services, when the user requests them (user shared content etc.) is fair enough, it's more akin to the way the MMORPGs work, however patches should still be available separately.

    The game code doesn't have to contain the full serial check logic, just enough to make sure the key hasn't been mistyped. Ensure server side that only real valid keys get the user content, and if it does look like a key has been used across multiple machines, disable online content for that user. (unless it's a security update or similar that could risk the machine becoming a zombie without it)

    ANYTHING beyond that is unacceptable IMHO.

    Piracy will happen whatever you do, rewarding actual customers with extra services (extra online content) rather than punishing them by making them jump through hoops which the pirates don't even see (broken DRM systems, annoying disc based protections etc.) makes the most sense.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Perhaps, but securom is still a rootkit, which was left behind when you uninstalled spore (which in incidentally a crap game anyway), and some versions of securom have had security vulns or caused performance/stability problems.

    As for the 5 installs, it doesn't matter how practical it has, it is the principle of it. Anyway, what happens if your HDD fails, you can't use the de auth tool then so you lose one of your installs.

    Ironic how any game with securom reduces sales, because people either boycott or pirate it. I never buy any games with securom, if they were released without DRM then I probably would buy them.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's not a problem when it works correctly. But it didn't always work correctly, as you showed yourself by listing all the changes EA had to make to their policy. No one wants to go through that crap, and plenty of people did. It cost EA a lot of money, and it did no good in the end. Punishing your paying cutomers is stupid. I shouldn't get an inferior product because I'm actually paying the company.

    The best way to fight piracy is to offer a superior product over the bootleg. The people who spend their time getting an inferior free version are unlikely to have spent the money on the full version anyway. With a game like Spore, this is a no-brainer, since a lot of the fun comes from user generated content, and a simple unique CD Key is all that's needed. People downloading movies recorded off a camcorder aren't likely the type who are doing it instead of going out to see it in a theatre. A few, maybe, but I'd bet just as many people who like their inferior pirated game will like it enough to go out and get the real version. The game industry hasn't helped in giving incentive. You used to get a manual, maps, quick reference charts, etc. when you bought a game.

  18. Tharrick
    Thumb Down

    @ Josh Hamilton

    I bought a perfectly legitimate copy of Devil May Cry 4 some time ago from a high street retailer. It installed SecuROM without my permission, and then SecuROM had compatibility issues with Vista and refused to allow me to play my game!

    I pirated the game. I can now play. DRM penalises only legitimate owners.

    Incidentally, I retained the purchased copy of DMC4. Capcom still have my money. But I won't be buying anything from them again, until they get it through their heads that unfairly penalising people who've paid actual money for an actual copy of the game is a *retarded* business approach.

  19. Heff

    @ AC 16.56GMT

    Extra Stuff in the box! I remember those days. I buy games now and I get a .pdf on the DVD and a booklet of adverts for other games the publisher makes, and I wonder what the hell is going on; I've had to drive 30 minutes to a store, pay $50 for a DVD that may or may not run with its ludicrous copy protection, and I get a bunch of advertising and a box to keep it in that I frankly dont have room for.

    OTOH, I _love_ limited edition releases. Fallout 3s lunchbox and t-shirt and tiny bobblehead doll was a great reason to buy a hardcopy. I loved that. Bioshocks LE had tiny Big Daddy models. I miss the days of maps and real manuals; things like that were the incentive I wanted to go to the damned store; when your retail product is identical to an online pirated version, you have no edge besides doing the 'moral' thing. when your retail version is actually MORE of a pain in the ass than a pirated copy, and you provide nothing to offset this, why the hell would I pay for it?

    at the current state of gaming for PCs, the only non-morality reason to buy a game legitimately is that it makes the now-industry-standard practice of dealing with Zero day patching and bugfixing easier, usually because the game house ties your CD key to your right to fix their broken product.

    as for DRM in the wider sense, Take a look at good old XKCD :

  20. Anonymous Coward

    SecuROM - get the hell over it.


    Don't load your machine full of warez, don't run dodgy stuff from torrentz. Use a sacrificial box for that if you really must do it. The Accountant's rig at work is good too.

    If you run ANY major production software (I'm thinking Autodesk, Adobe) legitimately, then you using SecuROM. Deal with it. it doesn't eat your HDD, bork your DVD-RW or any of those things.

    SecuROM is WAY better than insert-the-bloody-disk-to-continue type DRM. I have NEVER had any issues with SecuROM destroying DVD drives, or even interfering with DemonTools - something that every 1337 haxxor claims has happened.

    Starforce - heh, different story!

    Admittedly, the best, most unobstrusive DRM is Steam - they've done a superb job (I've got all my Steam faves installed on my office desktop, home desktop, laptop - I just can't play them all at once. Fair enough!)

    Spore isn't bad - the 5-install limit might have been a bit optimistic, but I've only installed it 3 times so far - once on laptop, twice on home desktop after I did something accidentally fatal to the first install. The fact that they have relaxed the limit now is better, but I can completely understand why they would want it limited for the first 6 months. Who needs to install it more than 5 times in that period? And if you do, what the hell are you doing? Don't have anything better to do?

    Egosoft (X-series) also has a good policy - lockdown early on, then relaxed after 12 months or so.

    Don't like DRM? Try Linux, or MacOSX ; I think they have a game or two on it now.

    As for value adding - laser-engraving arcylic blocks is dirt cheap nowdays, why not laser-cut 3D maps or holographic instructions as value-add stuff? It would look darn cool, and make copying damn near impossible. For those who claim 'boo-hoo, I lost my manual, CD, cd-key, whatever' - hey, have you ever lost a BOOK? They are very hard to read after that, and every store I've used does not allow you to take another book if you loose yours.

    Answer - be more organised, take responsibility for your stuff, don't loose things, don't act like you are 4 years old with ADHD & Apsergers.

  21. Bumhug

    Sims 3 just doesnt need it

    Sims 3 is going to be one of the most pirated games of the year, but it will also be one of the biggest sellers. And any money they "lose" from pirate copies they will more than make up with the endless amounts of expansions that do nothing more than add a few extra bits of furniture

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, copt protection....

    Many, many years ago I was asked to copy-protect one of my Spectrum games. I pratted about for an afternoon and sent them the game on tape.

    A few days later I got a call from the duplicating plant. "We've got your game here." "Yes?" "We can't copy it..."

  23. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    @Josh Hamilton and others who fail to see

    The DRMs and "copy protection" were never meant to be a countermeasure to piracy, which is an unauthorised commercial duplication of software. These measures are directed solely against the legitimate users of the software and the sole issue here is the control over the use of the product.

    Traditionally, the consumers thought that when they pick up a disc in an HMV and pay for it they are *buying* that copy of the software and they are free do to whatever they want with it as long as they don't infringe the commercial rights of the rights holder (i.e. not selling home-made copies of the game).

    For the legal perspective that was not strictly the case as you cannot buy/sell intellectual property, you can only license it because it's intangible. However, for all practical purposes the substance of the relationship between the right owner and the end-user was still that of a buyer and seller. Once bought, you could use the software however you liked and you could sell the disc on a secondary market when you felt like it.

    At some stage the rights holders decided to enforce the strict interpretation of the law in their favour and change the historic nature of that relationship. To do that they had to wrestle the control over the copies of the software back from the end-user and that's why DRMs came in.

    Of course, everybody understood that to suddenly say to Joe Blow Jr that he can't buy the games anymore but can only rent them with strings attached would have caused immediate and strong reaction, so they've been doing it surreptitiously:

    - Joe Blow still thinks he is buying the game in his local HMV (the till is still called "point of sale", not a "licensing bureau").

    - the presence of DRMs is explained by the need to fight the scary "pirates" (in the same way as the need for CCTV and ID cards is explained by the need to fight the scary "terrists").

    So, Joe Blow is being gradually conditioned into thinking that games are just happen to have DRMs and nothing can be done about it and, hoepfully, he will teach Joe Blow Jr that games were always like that from the times immemorial.

    However, the problem is that the society is not all as stupid and as submissive as Joe Blow from the game publisher business plans. The filesharing (which is not "piracy") has evolved as the natural reaction of a society attacked by an abusive monopolist. The majority of people don't want to rent things - they want to own them outright and the attempt to change the rules of the game proved to be difficult for the rights owners.

    By no means the war is over yet. We can see from this thread that the weak elements of society are easily fooled. Other elements of society are easily bought. Only time will tell who will win in the end, but I think that what was meant to be a blitzkrieg has already turned into a bit of a Stalingrad.

  24. regadpellagru

    Bizarre title

    "EA: No DRM for Sims 3"


    "The game will have disc-based copy protection "

    Funny how the 2 sentences can be in the same article.

    I think we live in interesting times ...

    As others has said, disc-based copy protection, depending on how it's implemented, can be a real burden and a game life diminisher.

    In other words, a rip-off DRM.

  25. John Scott

    Who buys these games?

    This doesn't bother me since I haven't played the Sims since the original, which was novel at the time but got boring very very quickly. The kind of people who would buy this will probably just keep the disc in the PC since that is all they will play all the time, you know the type!

  26. Adrian

    What's the fuss?

    Twenty-odd comments in and no one seems to have noticed the phrase "just like The Sims 2".

    True, with Sims 2 I had to have the disk in the drive to run the game, which is true of practically every modern game I play. True, I had to enter the serial code when I installed the game. True, I had access to 'extras' when I registered the game with EA.

    But I did not have to enter a code every time I wanted to play, nor did I have to connect to the Internet. Provided my OS still supports it, I can continue to play for as long as I have the disk and (should I need to reinstall) the serial number.

    Sounds like a pretty acceptable system to me and if Sims 3 uses the same mechanism I'll definitely consider buying it ... which I certainly wouldn't if it was crippled by SecuROM or some other phone-home system.

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