Is there a comprehensive list somewhere of the games that bind your cd-key to your hardware when you install them (like Halo 2 PC, Dirt 1, and several others? Many of these games don't tell you that they do this when you install them, so I thought it would be convienient to have a list somewhere of "games that you shouldn't install on your portable machine first" In most cases I suppose you can still call the company to reinstall a product (like you can for windows), but that's going to be a fairly tedious process if you replace your whole system, and it would be nice to know ahead of time if you should just not bother buying/installing something if you are planning to replace your system soon. For all I know, this practice has mostly died out, but I thought I'd at least ask.
I guess he thinks that games are OEM's like windows.
if this is the case: don't worry, you can install a game as many times as you want (except spore i think). games from blizzard you can even download again from their site if you register. (the same with steam, but i'm not sure about that)
BUT you may only install it for yourself and almost every online game only allows one instance to be running at the same time.
so to be short, you can install (almost) every game as many times as you want, on your PC only and only one installation at a time
As I said, Halo 2 vista behaves this way. Once you install it, your cd key is bound to your hardware, and if you try to install it on a different machine the online activation recognizes different hardware and thus says your key is already in use (unless you call mircrosoft and have them reset it for you). Dirt 1 does this as well, but only for save games, you can install the game again but you can't transfer a save game file to a machine with different hardware. I assumed some other games did it, but it appears I was wrong, since no one seems to know of any.
After some looking, it appears that this practice was patched out of halo 2, as there are reports of people having an install limit. I personally ran into the 1-pc a key issue myself some time ago, but it seems that is no longer the case. The only sources I can find arent exatcly reliable forum posts quoting the halo 2 privacy statement, which I cant find and has likely changed. In any case, I know from personal experience that halo 2 vista at one point bound your cd key to your hardware profile when you activated it, and you had to call microsoft to get it reset.
It appears what you are describing is online DRM activation.
You can only install a game on one machine at a time; for each copy of that game you have. If you install the game on your laptop 1st, and then you want to install it on your PC, you will probably need to call customer support to have them "release" your key so that you can install on another machine. This will invalidate the install on the laptop.
If you want to have the game installed on both desktop PC and laptop ('cause maybe you travel around) then you need to buy two copies of the game because each game can only be installed on one computer at a time.
The "Key" for the OS or the game is tied to the MAC address of motherboard or eithernet card and you need an activity internet connection. When you boot your PC, Windows will connect to Microsoft's servers to validate the key and your MAC address. Once validated, you are able to go on your merry way. If Windows is not validated, then I suppose you will get a warning and Win Vista / 7 will allow you very limited usage of the PC before it automatically shuts down. Probably happens every hour or two. If I was Microsoft, I would make it every 30 minutes to annoy those people who are using pirated versions of Windows.
If your mobo dies then just call MS to release the key so that you can legitimately re-install Windows. You only do this with the OEM version of Windows. For the retail version of Windows you can re-install it as many times as you want. However, if the MS servers detects that the same key is used by more than one PC (via the MAC address) then I would assume the OS will be invalidated on both PCs and you will need to call MS to explain your mistake.
The same can be applied to games. The key you use to install the game becomes associated to your MAC address. However, publishers can even limit the number of times you install your game 'cause maybe your PC died or you uninstalled when you finished the game and then decided to play it again, whatever... I think BioShock only allowed you to install the game 5 times before you are locked out and you need to call customer support to "release" previous installs attempt so that you can install it yet again.
Most of my games are purchased through steam, this way I do not have to worry about this kind of unethical DRM, IMO each CD/DVD should be assigned a key, this way you should be able to install the game on as many PC's as you desire, as long as you do not have 2 PC's running with the same key for the sole purpose of playing "ONLINE" you shouldn't have an issue. Not sure why MS decided to change the traditional installation method. Sketchy if you ask me..