EA Offers Some Games "DRM-Free" Through Steam

By Mike on 9:45 am

Filed Under: , ,

As of this Monday, Electronic Arts will begin selling some of their most popular PC titles through Valve's popular Steam digital download service. What's more, they will be offered without third-party DRM. This means that SecuROM has been put out to pasture, provided you download the game from Valve. Titles offered include Spore, Warhammer Online, Need For Speed Undercover, FIFA Manager 09, Crysis, Crysis Warhead, and SiN. Mirror's Edge and Command and Conquer will also be added to the service in the next few months. Prices for the SecuROM-free games are on par with their boxed counterparts. Spore for example is currently selling for $50 US.

If you follow any sort of game news, you'll know that Electronic Arts suffered a major PR disaster due to the draconian limits placed on Spore. For many casual gamers, this was their first introduction to the DRM that has plagued most PC titles for some time now, and they didn't like it one bit. Originally, Spore was locked to no more than three user accounts (even if they were on the same machine) and phoned home bi-weekly to make sure you weren't using known pirated keys. Installs were not deauthorized if the game was uninstalled from the computer as well. (This was done in my opinion to stop the lucrative legitimate pre-owned resale market.) EA backed down somewhat, upping it to five installs and allowed users to deauthorize installs when removing the game. Despite these draconian measures of piracy prevention, Spore became the top pirated game of 2008 and clocked in the highest number of illegal downloads per month in history. EA was sued over Spore's DRM since according to the plaintiffs, they failed to disclose the restrictions on the packaging or in the End User License Agreement.

The boxed copies of the games in question still include SecuROM, presenting somewhat of a double standard. Digital downloaders using Steam are being rewarded where those using another service or buying a boxed copy must still deal with the now notorious DRM scheme. Also, Steam itself is a form of DRM, all be it much milder than SecuROM. Many games require you to be online and connected to Steam, which puts mobile gamers out in the cold. However, according to Steam, games are associated with your account, not your computer so you can play your games on any system. This is why the online connection is needed. It's a more common sense approach to DRM that keeps publishers happy without punishing legitimate users. Now all we need to do is do the same with boxed copies and finally put SecuROM and its counterparts out to pasture for good.

Source: CNET News , Steam Press Release

0 comments for this post