EA Backs Off From Heavy DRM; Goes Old School

It’s been a week filled with PC gaming DRM with companies talking about fancy new systems that aim to make everyone happy.

None of this for the Sims 3

Electronic Arts, while credited with creating one of the largest DRM debacles ever with Spore, is now looking at a DRM solution that’s just plain old school. Rather than try to re-engineer or employ some elaborate scheme, the Sims 3 team is going with the last form of DRM that didn’t hurt legitimate buyers -- the CD key.

“The game will have disc-based copy protection – there is a Serial Code just like The Sims 2,” wrote Rod Humble on the Sims 3 news page. “To play the game there will not be any online authentication needed.”
Humble explained why one of EA’s biggest franchises will be getting such a simple form of protection: “We feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future.”

Earlier this week, Microsoft, Valve and Stardock recently detailed their own new anti-piracy methods. Microsoft’s aims to stop pre-release games from leaking onto the internet, and Valve’s ensures that only the original owner of the game but no one else can make use of the executable. Stardock’s system appeared to be the best with consideration for resale, but still required a one-time online activation.

[I can't believe EA is agreeing with what I wrote in my story about HDCP. I guess there is hope--Ed.]

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • rigaudio
    The power of the internet saves the day.
  • kelbo
    It is very well known that DRM only makes it difficult for the authentic customer.
  • megamanx00
    Guess they actually got alot of consumer complaints. Anyway the typical sims player isn't browsing the Pirate Bay as much as the FPS players, and they don't want to anger all the casual players who spend way to much on those games, so this move makes sense.
  • AdamB5000
    I was frustrated with EA's approach with a Battlefield 2 expansion pack. I had to register with EA and register the product on the internet simply to play offline. I quickly entered a never-ending loop of receiving a 'you're already registered' message and then a 'please register' message. After extreme frustration I emailed EA's support. I was pleased to see a quick response and after a couple of email exchanges the person claimed I was good to go. However, I found myself so frustrated with the whole experience that I totally lost interest and to this day have not fired up the game.

    So yeah - don't make it so hard to play a game I paid for.
  • grimmone
    As someone on Kotaku said... PC gamers will show their appreciation by pirating the hell out of this :(
  • curnel_D
    So far, I think Bethesda's trumps them all. Make games that kick so much ass that even if they're pirated a ton, they're still #1 blockbuster sellers for years to come.
  • etrnl_frost
    grimmoneAs someone on Kotaku said... PC gamers will show their appreciation by pirating the hell out of thisSo unfortunately true. It's a lose lose situation for the industry.
  • norbs
    I dunno I remember on a few instances I switched to hacked version of game i own just to avoid the annoying DRM.
  • grimmone
    kami3kTo anyone who thinks Sims getting pirated will hurt them, slap yourself real hard in the face.Spore was one of the most pirated games last year, yet it still sold what? Over 2 million copies? Probably a good amount more by now. Also you fail to realize this, people who pirate wouldn't have bought the game to begin with. So they lose little to no sales and in fact heavy DRM just makes it more likely to be pirated.
    Why do you think they're taking this "risky" move with the Sims? Of course it's going to sell amazingly well regardless. However, they can look back and say, "Okay, the Sims 3 sold great, but look at the number of pirated copies. We shouldn't avoid DRM on less popular titles because they wouldn't be able to survive the same backlash. This just goes to prove that DRM is necessary."

    PC gamers are just as stupid as console gamers. The latter lacks brains, and the former lacks common sense.