Gears Of War Shipped With DRM That Shuts The Game Down After 01/28/09

Do you play games for more than 3 years? I do! I still like Super Mario 3, and that’s no lie. Well, if you are like me, you might be concerned about the fact that the PC version of Gears of War shipped with DRM that automatically made the game unplayable after 1/28/09.

Ars Technica says:

Gamers who tried to play Gears of War on the PC Thursday ran into a slight snag: it seems that the digital certificate that allows the game to run expired on January 28, 2009. Basically that means if you keep your PC’s clock up to date, you can no longer play the game. The official Epic forum is ablaze with complaints about this issue, as the still-kicking community becomes enraged.

“I had this problem this evening, I had to change the date and time (from PM to AM) and I am able to get in just fine,” one frustrated gamer posted. “I also changed it back to the current date and time and it didn’t work. Change it back to yesterday AM and it works fine… EPIC games won’t be on my list anytime soon….”

If you want to continue playing the game, you can adjust your system clock while waiting for a presumably forthcoming patch. Of course, if you pirated the game, you don’t really have a problem.

Gears of War DRM screwup makes PC version unplayable [Ars Technica] (Thanks, Mike!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    But…why would they do this? I mean, I believe they did this, but I don’t understand why. It’s not like this would force gamers to buy GoW2 (is that even out on the PC?).

    • AstroPig7 says:

      @AlteredBeast: I doubt that this was intentional. This was most likely an oversight that passed the QA department. The three-year certificate was probably in use by developers who didn’t update it prior to release.

    • Preyfar says:

      @AlteredBeast: I think it was just an unforeseen bug in the coding, nothing intended. And it’s due to an expering certificate. Lord of the Rings online and some other games was also affected due to the “YK9” issue. From what I understand, it’s similar to the bug that affected the Zune.

      • wastedlife says:

        @Preyfar: Zune issue was a bug in some versions of the firmware that caused it to go into an infinite loop because last year was a leap year. Basically, it measures the days from 1 to 365 with a special bit of code to handle 366 day leap years. That special bit of code was missing something and would basically repeat itself forever. Luckily, it fixed itself on day 1 of the next year. Microsoft released an update to prevent it happening again, but I doubt many of these Zunes will still be functioning in 2012.

        Certificates are a whole other issue. I can’t believe that they use certificates with expiration dates in their DRM scheme. That means that even if new certificates are released in a patch, in 3 years it might happen again. If they are even still around, will they bother releasing a new patch? The majority of people do not play PC games after 6 years, but many still do. Heck, I still play games I bought in the mid-nineties.

    • Chongo says:

      @AlteredBeast: It could just be that the company who ported it to PC screwed up, not the original developer? As I recall about the zune thing though, that was because last year was a leap year and it ended the next day.

    • Mattlar says:

      @AlteredBeast: I don’t think there are any plans to release GoW2 on PC, which is too bad for PC owners. GoW2 is fantastic.

      While I play the occasional PC game, this is exactly why I love playing on a console. You don’t run into any of these problems, and you’re always guaranteed to meet the hardware requirements.

      • Preyfar says:

        @Mattlar: Epic also said there were no plans to port GOW to PC, and yet they did it after multiple denials. I imagine they’ll release GOW 2 to PC down the road. It equates to “free money” for them given the lower development costs to port a 360 game to the PC.

    • Swizzler121 says:

      @AlteredBeast: Its microsoft man, they hate you, they own you, and they whip your ass until you comply.

    • P_Smith says:

      @AlteredBeast: They do it for the same reason Apple and Microshaft do it with OSes: to force people to buy new product.

      I still sometimes play old games myself. Really old games, David H. Ahl-old games…


      • MauriceCallidice says:

        @P_Smith: Neither Apple nor Microsoft forcibly stop their product from working after a particular date. They stop supporting them eventually, but that’s entirely different.

  2. GMFish says:

    Set the clock on your PC ahead about 10 or 20 years. You’d be shocked to find out how much software no longer works.

    Yeah, I know. Three years is a lot different than 10 years. But I just wanted to point out that a lot of software has a built-in kill date.

    • Brain.wav says:

      @GMFish: Usually, it’s nothing so malicious. It’s just programmers that don’t think to test dates that far in the future.

    • docrice says:

      Try setting your date ahead 10 months and see how many web pages you can surf…my wife accidentally changed the date when she was looking at the calendar and all the sudden, every page I opened had an expired certificate warning…

    • albear says:


      Damned you GMFish! I set my clock to 2070 to see what would happen. All my browser’s cookies got corrupted and I had to do a system rollback with no luck. I had to manually login to all my favorite websites. Some I had totally forgotten the password to.

      I really know what NOT to do next time thanks to you!

    • ShinGetterPoPo says:

      You know, it’s a lot easier for me to stab a guy and take his wallet then work for the couple of hours to make the same amount. Why should I bother working when I can just take some other guys money.@Yankees368:

  3. Yankees368 says:

    Another win for piracy. Why the hell should I purchase anything outright when I have to deal with shit like this. If these corporations want to stop piracy, make it easier for my to actually purchase and install a game or program. Until then, fuck off.

    • enderx says:

      Way to justify your stealing. I hope you work in a job where you never make mistakes.

      • watduck says:

        @enderx: I agree that this was a mistake on the publisher’s part, but this is a prime example of how terrible DRM is. Legitimate customers are at the mercy of DRM, so if something goes wrong, they can’t play the game they shelled out $50 for.

        • Yankees368 says:

          @crice: Exactly. If I purchased, legally, an MP3 download which is laden with DRM, and that company decides one day to shut down their DRM server, which DOES happen, I am SOL. Conversely, if I simply illegally download the song, it is mine forever.

          CD’s come with rootkits. Blu-ray’s come with profiles that some players cannot play. It never ends.

      • HFC says:

        @enderx: Wait. What was stolen?

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        @enderx: Even when the DRM works perfectly, it’s usually a hassle for legitimate owners. Pirates don’t have to deal with digging up the disc to shove in the drive just to prove you own it. Pirates don’t have to make sure their internet connection is working before it dials home. Pirates don’t have to worry about reformatting their computer for the 6th time and finding out now they can’t run it. Pirates don’t have to worry about rootkits installed to make sure you don’t run a debugger or cd-rom emulator.

        It’s just a hassle and it’s just security theater (except for the hassle part). Pirates will simply sidestep whatever kooky incantations and rituals legitimate users have to do to get what they paid for to work. There will never be copy protection that cannot be bypassed. Therefore they ALWAYS have a better product, albeit stolen, than the people who pay.

        • mythago says:

          @Applekid: And yet DRM-free, no-disc-needed games like World of Goo get heavily pirated. It’s almost as if the real reason for pirating games is to get shit without having to pay for it, or something.

          Sorry, I get the DRM hate (everybody remember when the solution to Bioware’s DRM was “go buy a new CD drive and hope it’s compatible with that brand?”) but that’s the excuse, not the reason.

          • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

            @mythago: Very true. The real reason is “lol, free stuff”. But if there was no piracy those people wouldn’t be buying the game anyway. It’d be nice to stop them but you can’t. Companies are fooling themselves and passing unnecessary costs to the users such as the DRM themselves (SafeDisc and pals cost money, you know) and in customer support when valid users get caught up in the DRM hair trigger.

            Meanwhile the stripped, pirate version is still a superior product. I routinely download no-cd patches for my PC games so I don’t have to keep a mountain of discs in a pile by my desk. Even have all my PS2 games on a hard drive that I use HD Loader on to have a PS2 Jukebox on my TV. The persuit of free stuff for some has the side effect where I too can obtain fixed versions of my software.

            IF there was no DRM ever, yeah, piracy would still be out there for everything. But the good stuff priced reasonably will always make money because it represents a good value AND customers wouldn’t hesitate on buying a game that they know doesn’t have a kill switch or could risk hosing their machine. Example: PopCap Games doesn’t use DRM on systems that don’t require it (consoles) and they’re doing quite well. Valve is doing fantastic even though all their games have a No-Steam patch available.

          • tc4b says:

            @mythago: I know you’re right, and that piracy isn’t some moral crusade against DRM. However, I believe that companies are turning away at least SOME paying customers with draconian DRM.

            Case in point, a while back I wanted the Kings of Leon CD “Aha Shake Heartbreak,” but the DRM was so bad on the disc it wouldn’t allow users to import it to iTunes. I pirated it instead. I know I could have bought it through iTunes, but the actual CD was the product I wanted. They later fixed it, and I bought the disc. (BTW, excellent album!)

            I’m not a saint, I know I broke the law, I’m not proud. All I’m saying is that it’s not ALL “yay free stuff.”

            • mythago says:

              @tc4b: Of course they are. I remember Neverwinter Nights being shipped with DRM that did not work with many brands of CD/DVD players. BioWare’s response? Gee, guess you should go buy a different player and see if it works. OF COURSE people who paid the full price for the game went and got no-cd hacks.

              I’m not talking about that or about DRM breaking programs. That is entirely different than using DRM as an excuse to steal. If you paid for a game and you get the no-cd hack so you can play without looking for the goddamn disc, good for you. If you pirate a game because you think that screwing small game studios out of their money is a blow against TEH MAN!!! you’re a lying sack of shit.

        • danep says:

          @Applekid: Kudos… you hit the nail on the head in my opinion.

        • Davan says:

          @Applekid: Unfortunately, this is not 100% true. Games with a major or majority online component cannot be effectively hacked (Warcraft 3 for example), unless you go to the extent of hosting your own version of Even then, where will your opponents come from? The single player experience can be, but the online experience cannot (which is by far the more enjoyable aspect of the game)

      • shepd says:


        I hope if I ever make a mistake in my job as big as this I am fired (Or my manager, if it’s his fault his staff is making mistakes, as the case may be). Otherwise, there’s something wrong with the world.

        And, just to repeat the only piracy I know of that is also theft involves people with peg legs and a penchant for sailing.

      • ChibaCityCowboy says:

        @enderx: the actual thief is the company that refuses to deliver sevices (in this case a game) that the customer has already paid for.

      • TechnoDestructo says:


        This is a mistake like planting a bomb in the foundation of your boss’s house, and resetting the timer every time you get paid…then forgetting to do that.

        Yes, it’s a mistake and you didn’t mean for anyone to be harmed, but it’s a mistake in a process that should not have existed in the first place.

        • dragonfire81 says:

          @TechnoDestructo: Seems to me companies had reasonable success selling a ton of video games before piracy ever became widespread.

          If they have a product that appeals enough and has enough quality and is marketed properly, they should be able to make a healthy profit regardless.

          I think a lot of PC software piracy has to do with either wanting to try a game out (you can’t rent PC games) or going for ease of use (in other words not having to bother with all the DRM BS).

          • mythago says:

            @dragonfire81: Seems to me there was ALWAYS piracy. I remember when freaking Infocom text games came packaged with maps, fake ‘gazettes’ and so on that had information you needed to finish the game. DRM may suck, but that’s not why people steal.

            • raskolnik says:

              @mythago: DRM may suck, but that’s not why people steal.

              It’s not why all people pirate (“steal” is not an appropriate description), no. But some? Of course. Just because DRM-free games get pirated does not automatically mean that no one pirates solely because of DRM.

              I think some of it frankly is the fact that a lot of consumerst now grew up doing this when there was more of a justification (if not excuse), namely that they were young. I know when I was 13 I couldn’t afford a $50 game (hell I’m 25 and can’t a lot of the time), and I know I wasn’t alone. I think it just becomes a habit, frankly.

              But again, I think piracy is to a large degree a consumer response to being treated like criminals by businesses that need us a lot more than we need them. How many people who download a crack own the game but either can’t use it with its DRM scheme or simply don’t want to? Why are we criminalizing that choice?

              DRM is a stupid, stupid idea, plain and simple. It will never stop people who want to pirate, and all it does is make life for law-abiding people harder. Game companies are encouraging piracy.

              • GuinevereRucker says:

                @raskolnik: I sort of agree with you that DRM is a bad thing. In a perfect world, people wouldn’t priate software at all. But since people do, and we have laws against it people ignore because it inconveniences them, we should either enforce the laws that exist or do away with the law.

                DRM seems a kind of middle ground where the companies take matters into their own hands in lieu of effective law enforcement.

                • raskolnik says:

                  @GuinevereRucker: I definitely think the laws need to be re-done. We’ve created protections that have nothing to do with the underlying purpose of copyright law.

                  DRM may be a middle ground, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. It’s bad policy from a business standpoint.

                  Imagine if a car dealership started selling cars with a switch inside that would make them stop running if flipped. There’s nothing to stop the dealer from hitting that switch whenever they want to. This is exactly what a lot of DRM schemes are.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @Yankees368: Fail for stealing.

      • watduck says:

        @GuinevereRucker: So you would shell out $50 for a game that installs Securom on your computer?

      • zegota says:

        @GuinevereRucker: Please stop confusing copyright infringement with theft. The two have very little to do with each other.

      • Ajh says:

        @GuinevereRucker: Correction: Fail for copyright infringement. (It’s still illegal but technically not stealing.) and does it still count if you download the pirated copy of a game you own to avoid drm?

        • raskolnik says:

          @Ajh: does it still count if you download the pirated copy of a game you own to avoid drm?

          Yes. Thanks to the Gift to Content Providers (aka the DMCA), circumventing copy protection is in and of itself actionable, regardless of what you do with it or whether you own a legitimate copy.

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @Yankees368: Agreed. DRM is bull-shit, there’s no reason why you should have to pay for a crippled product. If you would like to be a nice, ethical person, I suppose it makes sense to buy the DRM crippled game, and then go download a pirated version, which is probably still illegal due to technicalities in the EULA, but would get the whiners on consumerist to shut up and supports your favorite game developers.

      • amuro98 says:

        @nataku83: Why should a nice, ethical person be forced to buy a defective product in the first place – to say nothing of then having to do something whose legality is questionable at best – simply to get the product HE PAID FOR working in an acceptable manner?

        Downloading the pirated version of a game even though you own a legitimate copy would still get you busted for piracy and/or violating everyone’s favorite copyright law, the DMCA, because you are trying to circumvent the DRM in the game. Granted, I don’t know what would happen since the case would reveal a bunch of ugly details about both the DMCA and the software publishing industry.

        Anyways, this is why I don’t buy PC games from companies who treat their customers like criminals. If it’s a title I want but uses unacceptable terms and DRM, I’ll either buy a used copy for a game console (e.g. Xbox 360) or I’ll just skip the game entirely. It’s not as though there aren’t tons of other games out there to choose from.

        At the same time I will go out of my way to support software publishers that buck the trend and don’t mess up their products with DRM and other junk. Stardock is a good example. They don’t even use copy protection. They figure it’s up to them to get you to buy their games by making good games – not by using DRM and treating their customers like criminals. Do their games still get pirated? Sure they do. At the same time, they don’t seem to have any problem making successful games and getting people to happily pay for them.

        • watduck says:

          @amuro98: PC DRM makes me want to get a console :(

        • wastedlife says:

          @amuro98: I agree with you whole-heartedly about DRM. However, you are fooling yourself if you don’t think that console games use DRM. The difference is that consoles have the DRM systems built in to the firmware and sometimes even hardware. PCs have no such universal DRM and are stuck with hackjobs like Securom and Starforce to implement. I’d prefer it if companies used those resources to go after distributors of pirated games (or preferably, to make better games) instead of spending them on DRM schemes that punish their customers yet are cracked within days of release.

      • ccbweb says:

        @nataku83: Or, don’t play the game. If you don’t like a product (for reasons having to do with DRM or anything else) don’t get the product. Don’t just go steal it.

        When one starts from the position that they must have all things they desire at all, the arguments get silly quickly. “Well, I have to have the game and I don’t like the DRM so I’m justified in pirating/stealing it.” You don’t have to have the game. Make a choice.

        • watduck says:

          @ccbweb: Consumers WANT to play the game, but DRM acts as a major deterrent for many consumers. By following your logic, companies wouldn’t make games anymore.

          • mythago says:

            @crice: So piracy of DRM-free games is OK?

          • ccbweb says:

            @crice: I don’t think you understood my logic.

            Consumers want to play the game but don’t want to buy it because of the DRM.

            So the right option for those consumers is to steal the game?

            My logic is that if DRM is a major deterrent (and I believe that it is) one should be deterred from buying the product and that one should not steal the product. The appropriate choice is between buying the product and not buying the product. Poor DRM is a good reason not to buy a game.

            Following my logic, games with poor DRM wouldn’t sell very well and (if people were doing the whole consumerist thing they’d be telling the companies why they’re not buying the games) and those companies would change their DRM. If they didn’t, they’d lose money and stop making games and other companies would likely step in and make and sell games because there is clearly quite a bit of a market.

        • alstein says:

          @ccbweb: But then if people do that, piracy gets blamed anyways.

    • cynical_bastard says:

      @Yankees368: That is a very good question.

      A developer asked this of the pirate community, and adjusted some things based on these revelations.

      Definitely worth a read.


  4. Caudill Miller says:

    This is why I have all of my clocks set to 1950. Nothing was wrong in the 50’s. It was all good.

    • Jeremy82465 says:

      @Caudill Miller:

      Indeed, those were simpler times. When the family would all gather round their computers and play wholesome games together to stop communism.

    • FrankenPC says:
    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Caudill Miller: Can’t wait for the Bull Conner version of NFL Football (with dogs! and firehoses!! and secret levels featuring exploding Black churches!!!)

    • Blueskylaw says:

      @Caudill Miller:

      Nothing was wrong in the 50’s??????

      Do you remember the jingle:

      Duck, and cover?

      Duck and Cover was a suggested method of personal protection against the effects of a nuclear detonation which the United States government taught to generations of United States school children from the late 1940s into the 1980s. This was supposed to protect them in the event of an unexpected nuclear attack which, they were told, could come at any time without warning. Immediately after they saw a flash they had to stop what they were doing and get on the ground under some cover-such as a table, or at least next to a wall-and assume the fetal position, lying face-down and covering their heads with their hands.

      • amorris525 says:

        @Blueskylaw: Sense of humor much?

      • HogwartsAlum says:


        Ha, went to elementary in the ’70s. I remember this.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        @Blueskylaw: Funny, after playing an EA game I typically just Duck and Cower.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        @Blueskylaw: Way to ruin a joke.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @Blueskylaw: You know I’ve heard of this in relation to the nuclear wars and all.. but they still teach this duck and cover mess anyway.. the only difference is that now they say it’s for “extreme weather” like hurricanes and stuff.

        Allthough, I live in the Houston area.. where we really do have hurricanes.. so that may be the difference. I still find it amusing though. I had to do those drills all through my public school education and I’m only 24.

        I never figured out how a cheapo desk is going to save me from blowing away in a hurricane.

      • TechnoDestructo says:


        If they survived the flash, being under their desks would make them somewhat safer from falling debris.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Caudill Miller: this actually sounded like a great idea, & i started winding my clock backwards. do you realize that it has to be unwound 43,100 times?!??!

      i lost count around 18,000. i figure that puts me somewhere in 1984. uh-oh.

    • cromartie says:

      @Caudill Miller: You’re a white person, I presume.

    • BlazerUnit says:

      @Caudill Miller: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president [in 1948], we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

  5. boomersix says:

    I wonder when they will get it through their thick skulls that they are ENCOURAGING piracy with this idiotic type of DRM. My advice, LOOK AT STEAM, now THAT is the way to do drm. Good fr the consumer, good for the company. It’s easy, your games are always up to date, and it simply works.

    • cynical_bastard says:

      @boomersix: I have no problems with steam, but they make me nervous because they have the potential to go so very wrong…

      • Jon Mason says:

        @cynical_bastard: Yeah, its all well and good because Valve is doing OK, but they could easily go belly-up or get bought out one day and all your games are GONE FOREVER.

        • cynical_bastard says:

          @masonreloaded: Thats my biggest fear about steam :(

        • boomersix says:

          @masonreloaded: Too true

        • SacredByte says:

          @masonreloaded: I don’t have a problem with using STEAM a way to play my retail-purchased games like Dawn of War: Soulstorm, or Unreal Tournament III; I can activate the keys on STEAM and use them through STEAM, or I can install them as standalone software, and not use STEAM for them.

          I like that I’ve been given that choice, and that’s what it really boils down to. If I have the *option* to install and play the game without ever having to use STEAM, that makes me all the more willing to use STEAM for that software. If I have the choice, I don’t see why I wouldn’t use STEAM — it isn’t like I couldn’t just go the standalone route if I wanted to…

          Where it gets murky is when I am not given the choice about whether or not to use STEAM, like with Valve’s games, or the upcoming Dawn of War II. If the game is *exclusive* to STEAM, that means that if Valve goes tits-up, I’m likely out the enjoyment of software I paid for, whereas with games that I can use with or without STEAM, I can still use them without….

        • Anonymous says:

          @SacredByte: @masonreloaded: Valve has stated in the past (not sure where I don’t keep bookmarks of news articles) that they have the ability to unlock their games (not sure about non-valve steam games).

          So if the mothership blows up, you still keep your games.

        • Anonymous says:

          @masonreloaded: Unless they, say, send out a final Steam patch that modifies itself and its games to be freeware if this ever happens.

          Company closures aren’t sudden. They aren’t going to screw over fans just because their end eventually came.

  6. nato0519 says:

    Another reason people pirate. Stupid game companies spend so much wasted money on piracy. Believe what you want but if a game is good enough people will buy it no matter what. Epic Fail!!

  7. joeblevins says:

    I am guessing that this DRM document has an expiration date and it could have been set to anything, they just picked three years out. Samething happens with Music DRM. Wasn’t it Walmart that shut down servers and effectively killed all the music that was downloaded from there?

    • P_Smith says:

      @joeblevins: Three years is about the time it takes a company to produce a sequel. This is clearly about forcing people to buy new product, not a means of preventing theft.

    • Ragman says:

      @joeblevins: Walmart reversed its decision to shut them down. It would not kill the music outright, you just couldn’t move it or reload it. You could still make cd audio backups, but re-ripping would give you less quality.

  8. Saboth says:

    Another reason why DRM fails HARD. I never bought bioshock due to DRM (maybe they fixed it, maybe not)…there are a bunch of other games I wanted to try, but never bought because I won’t have malware installed or be limited by how many computers I can install it on, etc. I am BUYING YOUR GAME. Why are you punishing me? I could pirate it (I don’t pirate anything), and play it for *free*, and not have to put up with you messing with my computer or rights.

    • ccbweb says:

      @Saboth: Thank you. I was giving up hope that I’d see this line of thought. Totally makes sense to hate the DRM nonsense. And to therefore do without the game.

    • bmorg003 says:

      @Saboth: Bioshock still installs the DRM (securom), but they have opened it up on the server side (token), you can now install as many times as you want. Also they have a lot of game art (pdf) available on their website for free. I wasn’t pleased about the DRM either, so I waited to buy it. Great game by the way! DRM does suck though, and it obviously doesn’t stop piracy, but it does stop people from reselling used games though… it probably won’t be long before the same thing is implemented in consoles…

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s like the game industry has waged war against itself, trying to drive out as many customers as they can.
    Question: Is “Brownie” in charge at Epic?

  10. lvhotrain says:

    Most people do want to legally purchase the products they use. Its unfortunate when you purchase a piece of software, then have to get the pirated copy in order for it to work correctly. DRM is a joke. It hurts sales and drives away future business. I’m not sure who these companies think they are fooling. If it was programmed, it can be reverse engineered given enough time an effort. Apparently there are people with enough time, so why annoy your customers in the process?

  11. I_have_something_to_say says:

    The only thing DRM does is push honest people towards piracy. I have a hell of a time getting GTA4 to run because it thinks I’m using a duplicate DVD. I guess that’s what Take Two cares about these days. Where is the incentive to buy it when I can get a cracked version that has no issues?

    • amuro98 says:

      @I_have_something_to_say: Just buy a Xbox 360 or PS3, and then just rent it from Gamefly, buy it used from Ebay or Gamestop, or just borrow your friend’s copy. All of these are perfectly legal. At least for now, consoles are free from much of the stupidity that’s plagued the PC world for…well, ever since I started gaming on PCs almost 20 years ago.

      I’m sure many here can remember those stupid code-wheels many games came with to prove you were using a legitimate copy, or the infamous “Type in the 4th word from the 5th paragraph on page 15.” silliness. Neither of these were very effective, and if you lost the codewheel or manual, you were pretty much screwed…unless you downloaded a cracked version, or at least a cheat sheet so you could get around the copy protection.

      Copy protection has never been an effective way of preventing piracy, yet all the companies have done in the intervening years is impose more and more hurdles for legitimate customers to jump through.

      • ChibaCityCowboy says:

        @amuro98: The console itself is the DRM, and with that being said, when is the Team Fortress 2 class update being released for consoles?

      • Ajh says:

        @amuro98: I don’t want to buy a console for this game and a console for that game. Who has that kind of money? Many of the games I want to play come out for pc eventually….

        And consoles aren’t free of this silliness. They’ve got “Region Protection” problems. An example from about 4 years back: I speak and read japanese, but I can not play japanese ps2 games without either a seperate japanese ps2 or a hack that violates the warranty of my ps2 (no longer a problem with the ps2 as it’s out of warranty.)so I wait for a US release…of games that have no chance to be released in the US or buy yet ANOTHER console.

    • ccbweb says:

      @I_have_something_to_say: Why doesn’t it push honest people towards not buying the product?

  12. Admiral_John says:

    Epic fail.

  13. Skeetz says:

    DRM sucks, I agree. But it’s also a form of self defence so I see why a company would want to stop people from punching them in their perverbial face.. but I don’t understand why it has to have an expiry date. I know the game is no longer fresh, but that doesn’t mean I should throw it out..

    • aristan says:

      @Skeetz: Yes, and chopping off your own arm because you got it caught in a bear trap is also self defense, but I wouldn’t go recommending it to everyone.

      But at least the bear trap won’t expire.

    • consumerfan says:

      @Skeetz: It isn’t a form of self defence, it’s a form of mutilation.

      It harms the product, it harms the consumer’s interests and therefore harms the company.

      Why on earth would honest consumers pay for a defective product?

    • amuro98 says:

      @Skeetz: The problem here is that the certificate they used had a relatively short lifespan. This can easily be remedied by getting a new certificate and distributing it to players as a patch.

      This isn’t a perfect solution since not everyone who bought the game is going to have internet access, nor will they even know how to go look for a patch.

      As for DRM itself, I fail to see how preventing your paying customers from playing the game THEY BOUGHT is a good method of “self defense.” If companies stop treating their customers like suspicious characters or outright criminals, maybe – just maybe – people would stop acting like criminals and would start buying more games.

      Otherwise, the game companies are literally promoting an environment where “If you’re going to do the time, might as well do the crime” is the prevailing attitude.

      • Skeetz says:

        @amuro98: That’s what i mean though, the certificate shouldn’t expire.. it’s a one time purchase.. a license to use software is not a license to drive so it shouldn’t expire..

        @aristan: @consumerfan: Yeh I know.. like I said: it sucks. It’s not implemented/excecuted well. But since people will always fail the “trust us” side of the argument how would you suggest a company better protect itself? Is there a better alternative than allowing copywrited meterial to be a free for all and “trusting” everyone to pay their fair share?

    • tc4b says:

      @Skeetz: What has this company defended itself against? What has any DRM defended against? Not piracy, that’s for sure.

  14. sburnap42 says:

    This is why I gave up on PC gaming and got a console.

  15. Marund says:

    This isn’t really DRM. A missigned or expired certificate will cause problems with any program, as it will be seen as malicious when it’s not and refuse to run.

    From what’s been said on Kotaku, it seems this is simply a digital certificate that expired before it was supposed to or someone at Epic forgot to get it renewed. Either way, this is not a DRM issue at all.

  16. InThrees says:

    Sure, DRM can be somewhat touchy, occasionally, but let’s all think back to the countless headlines we’ve seen that have read something like DRM Saves Baby’s Eye, Life or Lucky Local Man Celebrates Rootkit or SecuRom Engaged to Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

  17. winstonthorne says:

    Yet another reason to never use a legitimate copy of a game.

  18. Mr-Mr says:

    Main reason why I don’t buy the PC versions of any game. I don’t trust any of these companies with their crazy DRM schemes. I rather wait for the game to hit the eventual, $19.99 sweet spot.

  19. zimmi88 says:

    Huh? This doesn’t actually sound like a DRM issue, but rather a bad security certificate. If I remember right, Microsoft signs programs validating that they are safe and secure. Most programs have no problem, but a few, even some big ones, end up with bad certificates every now and then.

    I find it odd that the system refuses to let you play, though. Usually when there’s a bad certificate, Windows warns you about the issue, then prompts for your ok to run it.

  20. lilspooky says:

    WOW, really glad i have a pirated copy of this game. I feel bad for all of you who paid for this game only to be treated like this.

  21. jc364 says:

    Not a problem, just pirate the game after you have a legitimate copy.

    Actually, that’s illegal, so nevermind.

    In fact, I think its even illegal to set your clock back to play the game, since that is circumventing the DRM. []

    • raskolnik says:

      @jc364: That’s an interesting thought, and something I hadn’t thought about before.

      I don’t think that would be a violation, though. I don’t think the expiration date on the certificate would itself be considered a method of copy-protection. Since setting the clock back doesn’t circumvent the certificate itself, I don’t see how that could be construed as a violation of the anti-circumvention provision.

  22. boomersix says:

    What’s really awesome is that the people who pirated this are having no issues at all.

  23. satoru says:

    Maybe it’ll be like the Zune bug so they can just wait until tomorrow :)

  24. Twinrevanoe says:

    Since when does my games have become Produce?

  25. grimdeath9740 says:

    good job to anyone saying they are not buying PC games with DRM, way to support the industry! if you really want to avoid these problems buy games that DONT have DRM such as Sins of the Solar Empire from Stardock (those guys have their heads on right). or really most any indie games, putting your money where your mouth is will be the only way to solve this.

    Regardless if this was an issue with DRM specifically, having any sort of way that your game can quit working because some monkey forgot to flip a switch is WRONG. Meanwhile pirates have NO problem….cant believe major game companies still find this to be an effective solution.

    • Ajh says:

      @grimdeath9740: I bought games that don’t have DRM! ^-^ I like games that don’t have DRM and the DRM in Steam is okay. I think it’s the intrusive stuff that doesn’t work on certain dvd drives, or gums up your OS with weird stuff in the background and makes the game buggy that people really have a problem with. Pirates will pirate either way.

  26. Yujin Ghim says:

    pirating ftw

  27. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    GoW owners got this recorded call from Bill Gates on 1/29/09:”If you didn’t beat Gears of War by now, too bad. If you want to finish it, buy a XBOX 360. Don’t forget to buy GoW2 while it’s still $60″

  28. tc4b says:

    It’s frustrating, because DRM (or whatever you want to call it in this case) only hurts legit users. Piracy remains a problem, though. Anyone know of a solution to piracy that actually hurts the pirates instead of legit owners (or, technically, renters I guess)? I’m not being sarcastic, I really want to know.

    Only thing I ever heard of as a real deterrent was some software company putting up dozens of fake files with the names of real games on services like Kazaa. Does that tactic work?

    • drjayphd says:

      @tc4b: It did get me to eventually buy Ima Robot’s self-titled CD… no, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I found it used, no sirree…

    • raskolnik says:

      @tc4b: To answer your questions in reverse order….

      To the second, not really. It’s always a cat-and-mouse game between pirates and content producers, but I think the pirates have a lot more resources. Even a fairly large company like MediaGuardian (whose unethical and flagrantly illegal tactics are the topic of another rant) can’t match the combined bandwidth of, say, the more than 3,000,000 registered users on The Pirate Bay (to say nothing of those who don’t register). On top of that you have stuff like PeerGuardian, which among other things blocks connections from known anti-p2p sites. The pirates are better organized and have more resources.

      As for disincentive, yes with a large “but.” Tying multiplayer to the serial number is a common precaution, but that only gets you so far. There are plenty of people who simply don’t care about that (which I believe supports my theory that a pirated copy != a lost sale).

      The problem, though, is balance. Game companies are already alienating consumers with current DRM, so anything more intrusive is going to do more to hurt sales, I think, than piracy ever will. And most of that gets cracked anyway, so, as you said, consumers are the only ones who’re hurt.

      Right now companies seem to be on the “connect to the Internet” bandwagon, which consumers (rightly, IMO) don’t like. Who wants to pay $50 for what amounts to a rental? Especially when the company who runs it can decide to take down the authentication servers whenever they want? Wal-Mart did this with its music store, and people had to jump through hoops to continue to use a product that they own.

      So to finally answer, I think the only things that would work are too invasive and annoying for people to be willing to use them. The pirates are simply too good at cracking this stuff (how many games are on bittorrent before they even come out in stores?). I’ve even seen fake copies of Steam (although I have no idea if they work), so even that is probably not a viable protection.

      The key is to make your customer base not hate you and then actually want to give you money. The example I like to use for this is Sins of a Solar Empire: a fantastic game from a relatively unknown company that has sold very well. And it includes 0 DRM. A great article from them about their strategy is here, and I hope other game companies are reading it too.

  29. YardanKabolla says:

    There is an XKCD for everything.

    Remember if you Pirate something, it’s yours for life.
    You can take it anywhere and it will always work.

    But if you buy DRM locked Media, and you ever switch OS’es
    or new technology comes along, your collection could be lost.
    And if you try to keep it you will be a criminal (DMCA 1201)

    So Remember: If you want a collection you can count on, PIRATE IT.

    Hey you’ll be a criminal either way.

    (If you dont like it, Demand DRM Free Files)

  30. mythago says:

    @Applekid: “But if there was no piracy those people wouldn’t be buying the game anyway.”

    The fact that you would take something if offered for free, but wouldn’t pay for it, doesn’t justify theft. I wouldn’t buy a Lamborghini even if I had a spare $500K – does that make it morally acceptable to go and steal one from the dealership?

    I’m not saying DRM is the way to go. But using DRM or “I wouldn’t buy it anyway” as an excuse to steal is bullshit. Why put your effort into creating something when 90% of the people who are happy to go ahead and take it will refuse to pay for it?

    • raskolnik says:

      @mythago: The fact that you would take something if offered for free, but wouldn’t pay for it, doesn’t justify theft. I wouldn’t buy a Lamborghini even if I had a spare $500K – does that make it morally acceptable to go and steal one from the dealership?

      This is why the piracy = theft comparison is fallacious. If you steal a Lamborghini from the dealer, that’s one that they no longer have to sell someone else. Not so with pirating something.

      Now, say you had a magical box that could make a duplicate of anything you wanted (think Calvin’s duplicator from Calvin and Hobbes). Next say you used that box to create a copy of the same Lamborghini. Is that stealing?

  31. mariospants says:

    Ha, I HAVE an official copy of this game on my PC and was mulling over whether or not to play it vs. watching “Slumdog Millionaire”. Considering how much shit I went thru to make the game simply run on my machine in the first place, I’m glad I didn’t experience their little “hiccup”.

    This is an epic fail.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I dislike DRM as much as anyone, but it’s important to note that this problem has NOTHING to do with DRM. Microsoft encourages programmers to buy a digital certificate and “sign” their code with it. The certificate is registered with a known certificate authority (just like an SSL certificate.) When the program runs, the certificate is checked, and if it isn’t valid, the program doesn’t run. In this case, the programmers should have renewed their certificate before it expired, but they didn’t. The game maker explains the problem at As for the pirates out there, you are why rest of us honest people have to deal with DRM.

  33. tc4b says:

    @Yankees368: @mythago: Did you even read my entire comment?

  34. Bog says:

    Anyone remember the company that tried to sue some guy and have him put in jail for releasing information on how to circumvent the install of their DRM from (I think a music) CD on to a PC?

    The “illegal” workaround that was published? Press and hold the “SHIFT” key when you insert the CD.

    • Bog says:

      Don’t forget – you don’t actually own any of the software you purchase. You “lease” or “license” it. If something says the program explodes on or after 01/29/2009 then no matter when you buy it – then tough-luck. Same goes for any other media.

      The way the copyright and patent laws are screwed up – I wouldn’t be surprised that you don’t actually own your own t-shirt, you’re just licensing it from the designer.

  35. Ronald Smith says:

    Ah, but DRM is worse on consoles, Why do you think, with all the computing power available in a console, they still make you play it off the disk instead of installing directly to the (way overpriced) internal hard drive. Playing from the disc makes the game load so slow it kills a lot of the fun for me.