By AndrewGaspar 27 Comments
In May, I discovered the wonders of Steam. It was the answer to my college gaming concerns. Having never been much of a PC gamer before, only dabbling in a couple RTS games from the late 90's and the Sims, my new laptop turned out to be adequate at running most modern games on moderate settings. Steam has become my friend with its insane sales, ability to download most games as many times as I want, and a great selection. DRM restricts the use of the game to your account, but it does not require you to be online at all times. It's a very liberal DRM policy that gives the user plenty of freedom without having to worry about some people exploiting the system.
However, nothing gold can stay. Yesterday I bought Mass Effect for five dollars because it was a game I'd always heard was great, but couldn't play because I have a PS3. So it finished downloading all 10 GB and click "Play" only to be met with the message "Failed to contact key server". After confirming I was still connected to the Internet and wasn't mysteriously disconnected during the two minutes between when the game finished downloading and I clicked "Play", I searched Steam's site for some help, but all they had was this. I knew this couldn't be right because I had download dozens of games from Steam already and hadn't had a problem with one of them.
I ended up finding a topic created back in January with people who had the same problem during a previous Mass Effect sale. It turns out that Steam didn't have enough CD keys on hand to distribute when the game was released. It's happening to a ton of people who bought the game yesterday, as well.
CD keys? Really? Aren't we a little beyond that archaic copy protection system? Isn't Steam supposed to negate all that? Your login IS your "CD key"! Either the developers were too lazy to edit the code for the Steam release, or EA is too over protective with their DRM.
It's such a paradox. The people who legitimately buy the game, the ones who are giving the developers their due because they appreciate the work that goes into the production of a game get punished because the publisher can't trust them to not share the game. I know people who would pirate games like Mass Effect without a second thought to the morality of the action. And they would be happily playing now, not waiting for Valve to get more CD keys from EA. It's so infuriating that the ones who AREN'T stealing the game have to put up with this bull while you could easily pirate the game and not have to worry about any of that.
DRM NEEDS to die. It has no place today. It does not prevent piracy. It punishes the legitimate user. EA publishes games for incredible developers, but EA as the publisher is garbage. How much foresight does it take to realize taking this action isn't going to save any lost sales. It's not going to prevent the game from being hacked by some guy and uploaded to be downloaded for free. EA should be encouraging their customers, not discouraging them. If I ever have this problem with EA's games again, then I might reconsider legitimately purchasing their games.