Such ingenious protection measures exist in abundance on the PC as well, and in this environment it’s much easier for a paying player to nevertheless feel the DRM’s sting. And yet, you had to applaud the effort. Just one great example of such a protection measure is Fade. Developed by Codemasters co-founder Richard Darling, it’s intended to be invisible to the pirate playing the game—until they become addicted, at which point gameplay begins to degrade. In Operation Flashpoint, for example, weapons lost their accuracy as enemies became more aggressive and injuries became more frequent. Similar systems have been in place in many games ever since, leaving confused copiers to wonder why their vehicles handle so badly or why the last snooker ball floated off the table.
6. The PS3 SingStore
Fewer people have hit snags with PlayStation Network DRM than Xbox Live DRM—PS3s haven’t failed as abundantly as 360s have, and Sony’s loose restrictions allow users to download content to five PS3s before it finds their actions suspicious. But the one exception is a whopper: the otherwise impeccably designed SingStore will, should your PS3 break down, not just refuse to let you download purchased songs again. It will also not let you purchase those songs again.
Conflicting reports from users imply that a call to Sony can theoretically get the license transferred, but these reports also show that leaving such a solution in the hands of phone support is a recipe for customer rage.
5. BioShock, Spore and the games of EA
Today, the Sony-owned SecuROM is the DRM method of choice for publishers including 2K Games and EA. And for seemingly every game that uses it, the process of customer annoyance and public outcry is the same:
1. The game comes out
2. There is immediate forum backlash, usually directed at the limited number of times each game can be installed before refusing to function
3. Each publisher tells the world again why DRM is necessary; claiming that it only hinders a vocal minority
4. Each publisher loosens the policy somewhat, causing the forum trolls to schism and deflating the attack
BioShock, one of the oldest games in this cyclical legacy of SecuROM complaining, recently added a fifth step—removing install limits after the product has done the majority of its sales. It remains to be seen whether other SecuROM-protected products—including Spore, Mass Effect, and the still unreleased Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3—will follow suit. In the meantime, consumers will continue to deride SecuROM’s migraine-inducing install limits, and this tiresome battle be fought over and over.