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Top 10 most annoying DRM


Don't panic!
Validated User
Interesting article on the history of DRM in PC and console games. Some of the stuff in there is completely ridiculous (general knowledge quizzes?), and SecuROM definitely gets a mention.


I can't figure out if Earthbound is more or less evil than StarForce. I'm just surprised they didn't mention codewheels and all that silliness :D
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Neo•Geo Fanboy
Validated User
I read that - pretty amusing.

StarForce would be most evil, though.

"But game-makers need DRM otherwise their game will be pirated! Look! Here's a torrent for GalCiv2!"


Ancestral Sigil of Play
Yeah, posting torrents to Stardock's game was just classy. Starforce died the awful death it deserved, and it'll be a great day when Securom gets the same boot.

My favorite "copy protection" method was from Ultima 7. Related to the "manual phrase" method: you had to whip out the cloth map of Britania and find the latitude and longitude coordinates of various cities in the world. That one was amusing, but thankfully the Ultima collection mini-guide has all the needed codes listed in it. Made it a little better... until I lost that book. :mad:

I also liked Microsofts old method of copy protection on games: the guilt method. Every cd had printed on it, "Please do not copy this disc." See also: "Support the hard working people who made this game." and "Support independent game developers who believe in shareware."

Crazy Jerome

Retired User
As much as I disliked the codewheel and manual keyword versions (especially when they had errors :eek: ), I have to say that the modern form that annoys me the most is the, "Disk in drive to start game." I guess it makes the most sense in a lot of ways, but when I've legally purchased a game, having to dig out the damn disk every time I want to play gets old really fast. (If the game doesn't have enough replay value for that to get old, then that is a different problem. :) )

Civ 4 is the absolute worst for this, because the start up is already clunky and long not even counting inserting the disk, and it is a game I will and have played a lot.


Neo•Geo Fanboy
Validated User
I wish devolopers using SecuROM were more consistent in its implementation. Sven (?) at Capcom Unity said that developers can implement the tech in different ways. So far the two SecuROM games I know I've got (DMC4 and Bionic Commando: Rearmed) have been great and trouble free, so whatever Capcom is doing is pretty decent. Hell, DMC4 didn't even require a registration key or anything! That was a happy surprise, and having to keep a disc in the PC, console-style, is a lot less odius in that light. Still a hassle, I agree, but not that bad.


Not the rod of Asclepius
Validated User
The most annoying copy protection for me was for the original Populous, King's Quest Four and the original Sim City. They all had really annoying "look it up in the book" copy protection.


Validated User
Levelling up in the Bard's Tale on the PC would occaisionally require you to answer questions about Skara Brae's layout. As my next door neighbour (who's game it was) had eaten the map in a fit of pique (and thrown the manual overboard - so we couldn't cast spells until a few years later when they got a PC with a mouse) we ended up having a Knowledge like knowledge of Skara Brae.


Synthesis Paragon
The original Starflight on the PC had this ingenious copy protection mechanism:
- a write protected disk could not be played, but could be copied.
- you copied the main disk, then played off the copy
- if you died, the game would format the disk(!!!)

The theory being that due to most copying in the day being sneakernet, that w/o the manual people would not know of this copy protection until too late -- they'd lost their copy when they inevitably died.

Perhaps the most assinine mechanism ever invented. W...T...F.

Monkey King

Stay classy
Validated User
Wow, I didn't know Earthbound did that. Totally not surprised, though. Super Metroid and Donkey Kong Country would also wipe all your saves if they detected a Game Genie connected, and even Super Mario Bros 3 was rigged to lock up right at the end of the game so you couldn't see the ending. Nintendo was frothing-at-the-mouth, pants crapping angry about cheat devices for reasons I still don't understand. I refuse to believe it was due to piracy, because that was prohibitively hard back in the day.

I still think code wheels are one of the more annoying protection gimmicks, mainly because you are well and truly screwed if you lose it. Game manuals can be found in text form on the internet, but I've yet to find a guide that gives me all of the AD&D Gold Box codes, making it difficult to play the first two games now that I've lost the wheel.


Retired User
Spore definately

It's a single player game but it has to connect to their servers and do some sort of validation check every 14 days so if you don't have an internet connection you are out of luck. It's not that I'll ever not have an internet connection but it's just a matter of principal.
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