Thou shalt not offend law-abiding computer gamers with frivolous strictures, I think that's a commandment somewhere. Whether CD/DVD copy protection tool SecuROM counts as frivolous, feckless, or downright frightening is debatable, but at least Rockstar's being up front about its inclusion in the Windows version of Grand Theft Auto IV, which ships tomorrow. According to Rockstar by way of IGN:
Having copy protection allows us to protect the integrity or our titles and future investments, but at the same time we have worked very hard to ensure that our solutions do not persecute the legitimate players of our games.
Whether copy protection does or doesn't "protect the integrity" of someone's game is another debatable point, and if anyone's got evidence, they're not sharing. What we do know is that a vocal constituent of gamers despise protection measures for reasons that range from game-breaking drive incompatibilities to claims that the copy protection mechanism actually crippled their disc drives.
The folks complaining mean business. One group filed a class action suit against Electronic Arts in September over SecuROM's integration with Spore. Another bunch flooded Amazon shortly after Spore dropped in early September to lash the game with a one-star rating in protest of its "restrictive" DRM scheme. As of December 1, Spore is still ticking along at one-and-a-half stars based on 3,158 customer reviews. Fallout 3 which also uses SecuROM has its share of Amazon DRM naysayers. (Foreshadowing?)
What GTA IV for Windows actually requires: Online activation "once per Windows account per machine" or if you change "any two 'major' components on your PC." Stay within those parameters and you can uninstall or reinstall the game as many times as you like per the retail version. The digital version work disc-free, but still uses SecuROM and requires online activation to play.
I'll spare you another DRM tirade. I despise it too, though full disclosure department, I've only had one run-in with it, and that was getting Silent Hunter 4 up and running years ago.
My primary allergy: online activation. I rebuild systems and swap parts routinely. I've spent more time than I care to think about with a receiver wedged between shoulder and ear to unlock something or reset an activation queue. Time is money, and the latter's already changed hands when that rude "activate now?" dialogue box materializes. Publishers call it necessary. I call it creatively bankrupt. Chalk it up not to the beat of technology, but the thud and clomp of deficient thinking.
What's your take? Does GTA IV's use of SecuROM mean you'll steer clear of the PC version? And would you risk picking up, as Rockstar puts it, "a Trojan or key logger" to download a cracked "DRM-free" version of the game after purchasing a legitimate copy, to sidestep installing SecuROM?