Electronic Arts releases DRM-removal tool

Electronic Arts has released a de-activation tool for removing the SecuRom digital rights management that the company earlier deployed on several of its games. SecuROM is known as the most Draconian DRM tool for games, apt to screw u your computer and harm your ability to play the games you bought. It's also entirely ineffective against piracy: Spore, the SecuROM-crippled game released to much fanfare in 2008, was also the most pirated game of 2008. It seems like the decision was driven by the massive, global negative publicity that SecuROM attracted, and by the rumblings from the FTC about regulating DRM.
Electronic Arts has posted a SecuROM de-authorization management tool. Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system, and help you download their respective individual de-activation tools. This isn't a perfect solution, since it's still possible to run out of activations in the event of hardware failure or other source of data loss, but since the announcement that this particular DRM system will be dropped for The Sims 3 , it would seem that EA has had a minor epiphany about DRM.
EA Releases DRM License Deactivation Tool


  1. Yep they lost money from me I was going to buy it, but decided to download it due to the crazy DRM.

  2. SecuROM is known as the most Draconian DRM tool for games, apt to screw u your computer and harm your ability to play the games you bought.

    It looks like you forgot to add a comma. Also, the correct spelling is “you”. Like this:

    SecuROM is known as the most Draconian DRM tool for games, apt to screw you, your computer and harm your ability to play the games you bought.

  3. I suspect that Spore was the most pirated game of 2008 because the anti-DRM and pirate communities wanted to stick it to EA. Since such a big deal was made about it, people jumped on the bandwagon. SecuROM is used in hundreds of games, and DRM has been present in PC games for decades.

    Personally, I think it’s stupid and wasteful, not just because it annoys customers, but because it annoys DEVELOPERS – wasting time and energy in the game production process, but Spore’s DRM is nothing new. I had to implement SecuROM into two PC games I released this year (I am a producer) and it added a month to our schedule.

  4. Jesus Cory when will just shut up stop talking about DRM. It’s obvious it means nothing to 99.9999999999% of people that matter. People just want to be able to read your blog without having to listen to anything you have to say in peace. Stop complaining.

    < / sarcasm >

    I wonder if they’ll still continue to release software with the SecuROM on it? Will this software remove SecuROM instances on your computer that were installed by rival companies or only EA released games? If it only removes it from EA released games how will the software differentiate it? Is each version of SecuROM tagged with the publisher it’s associated with?

  5. Hmm I forgot that by putting in those brackets would cause the end sarcasm statement.

    Guess which paragraph was tagged with the sarcasm?

  6. I’m almost certain you’ve misunderstood what this thing does. It doesn’t remove DRM. It does remove your activation, and hence your ability to play that game on that computer, so you can use that activation on another computer. RTFA:

    “Once de-authorized, a machine “slot” will be freed up and can be re-used on another machine. De-authorization does not uninstall the game, however, so if you decide you want to re-authorize your computer later, all you have to do is re-launch the game.”

    It doesn’t remove SecuROM – it’s still used to keep track of the game’s authorization status

  7. There is one big “GOTCHA” they forget to tell you. This de-authorizes a machine.

    These tools must be run BEFORE you un-install, format, or otherwise lose your data.

    If your motherboard and hard drive fail at the same time, that’s one activation gone. Forever.

    Unlike the iTunes system you can not revoke all your authorizations at once.

  8. @spazzm #3, I think the minimal-edit-distance correction of the post would be a single insertion, that is, “apt to screw up your computer”. Occam’s razor…

    @Itsumishi #7, “want to be able to read your blog without having to listen to anything you have to say” indeed :-)

  9. As it turned out the DRM was probably the least of Spore’s faults. That game (and I am loathe to even call it a game) was one of the biggest disappointments, for me, in almost three decades of gaming. I still love messing about with the creature creator but the game blows.

  10. I’m actually grateful they used SecuROM on Spore: It gave me a long enough pause for thought that I had time to realise it wasn’t the game I was anticipating and so saved NZ$100 by not buying at all… :-)

  11. Hmm, de-authorization usually doesn’t refer to removal of DRM. It usually refers to removing the game and incrementing the install limit so you can install it again on another machine. If that is the case, SecuROM is still very much part of the game, your machine, and on the disc.

  12. Cory, I am only saying that because I care – there are a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing.

  13. Yeah, this isn’t a very good post. It’s not a DRM-removal tool, it’s a “license removal tool” so you can deactivate your software on one machine and install it on another. Fine if you want to sell your used copy of Spore, useless if you don’t want SecuROM on your machine.

    It’s ok. I haven’t bought an EA game since they started using SecuROM; hasn’t impeded my ability to play them at all. (Actually, it’s kind of nice not to have to switch CDs all the time.)

    I’d start buying them again, happily, if 1) EA dropped SecuROM (which looks like it’s happening, yay!) and 2) they’d put out good games again. (A little more difficult, I guess.) Spore was terrible, and Sims 3 doesn’t look anything like something I’d want to play. (This from the woman who’s spent over $500 on Sims-franchise games.)

  14. As an EA customer of many years and many software titles I have bought a lot of their products. For the main part I have been happy with them. I have stopped buying any products with DRM – this includes the latest/later C&C3.

    After reading the blog I went to EA’s site to post a comment/email them. It is somewhat indicative of the corporate attitude that in order to contact them you are required to have an account AND to agree to their T&Cs. Regardless, I went through this pointless exercise (I lied about all of heir profiling requirements) and sent them the following comments:

    This is NOT a question, simply a series of logical commentary.

    1. All I wanted to do is send an email to someone re the subject/s below.

    2. Instead I have to create a login and click on an “Agree to these terms” (which incidentally I do NOT agree to – Being forced into this in order to contact someone at EA is totally wrong – it is important to note this). Additionally, I do not wish to receive unsolicited emails or contact unless it is in relation to the matters here.

    3. The information screen does not contain valid information (apart from my email address). Profiling should not be necessary to comment. You will note that, according to my entries, I am about 108-109 years old.

    4. The input screen for creating an account is poorly thought out. I live in Spain (where there are huge numbers of ex-pats – English, German, Dutch, Scandinavian and so on) yet the only language option is Spanish. Similarly, the US option only gives English as an option while Spanish is spoken by a large section of the population.

    5. It is clear, given the above and other items here, that EA have a significant disconnect with the people who have paid good money for games. Money that has allowed your company to grow and profit. There is nothing wrong with that and it is an essential indicator of the quality and re-investment made by your organisation. There are limits though to what I and many other GOOD customers are prepared to accept.

    6. It is known that there is a level of copying and piracy of games and other software. This happens in other business areas as well. Imposing constraints on your good customers by the imposition of DRM is not acceptable. Running a computer and maintaining it in a good operable state is bad enough as it is without having unwanted and unquantifiable activity simply to protect your bottom line.

    7. The imposition of DRM on a GOOD customer indicates several things:
    7a. A possible pricing issue whereby it is worth a pirates while to steal your product – either through lack of money or perceived worth.
    7b. A move away from producing a game for the sheer joy of knowing you have a good product that is enjoyed by your customer base. Clearly there have been sufficient good customers to allow EA to expand as it has.
    7c. A move toward consideration of your bottom line profitability that is more geared to profiteering rather than profit. This is known in other in other words as greed.

    8. Clearly something has to change. As a former customer who has bought many of your products (e.g., all of the C&C range and others). I (like many other people I know) now refuse to buy any of your products with DRM. Yes the earlier games have been pricey, but they have had value. They have been WORTH it.

    9. For me, I do not wish to, nor should I, be penalized for being a good customer. This is what DRM does.

    10. I am not buying. Not because I do not have the cash. Instead I am sitting with earlier products and your competitors products on my machines.

    11. When you sort out your own problems, come back to me with a better proposition. Don’t come back to me with a pair of software handcuffs because your business model is bad and you have failed to find a solution to the piracy issue.

    12. Provide customers with software that is free from DRM rather than a ‘catch-up to reality’ option for the removal of the software from a computer. Hardware does fail. Punishing a customer for this is not good. This way there will potentially be some face saving on your part.

    Customer confidence in a company is a huge part of what makes a company successful.

  15. As someone who took a part in de-DRMing (is that a word?) software in the early 90s, such as the betas of 3D Studio (the help button said, “This is help” – it was a pain in the ass to learn how to use it without any help, books or otherwise) AT&T’s Topaz and Rio, Ron Scott’s Hi-Res QFX, CAD-Key, etc. I laugh. DRM is not and never will be applicable to piracy.

    It is funny to see DRM cracked within hours of issue by the very community that it is supposed to block and only harm the legitimate end-user.

    When will they learn? It has been decades already…

  16. > When will they learn?

    They will learn when the consumer learns.

    As long as there are people dumb enough to buy it,
    there will be companies arrogant enough to sell it.

  17. For anyone interested, I was involved with the original warez group, WAReZ. The Iceman cracked the software (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SoftICE for reference) and I tested it on my high-end hardware – namely a Truevision Targa+ 64 that I paid $2500 for without any software.

  18. I totally agree. I have 2 store bought copies of C&C the First Decade. I had to buy the 2nd copy because the first one would no longer play the games let alone read the dvd in the drive most of the time. Even on my 2nd copy Red Alert 2 and Tiberean Sun will no longer play. I even bought a new CD/DVD-RW combo drive to try to solve this problem. I also bought Empire at War Gold Pack and I can install the game but cannot even play it since I purchased it,and tthese days you can’t get your hard earned money refunde when you buy a game that doesn’ work. My laptop which is running Windows 7 Home Premium meets all the neccessary requirements so I know it is not a hardware issue. Then I thought it could be an issue with Windows 7 itself although Microsoft has done a pretty good job of making good OSs ever since Windows ME bombed. I have been online countless times to find solutions for the latter but to no avail. I don’t like using pirated games because they lack in-game FMVs and sometimes the music and can also cause problems within the operating system. Although pirated software may be free it does not mean the quality is good. Any help as to what I should do to alleviate this problem would be greatly appreciated as I can also share the knowledge with others who are suffering with simliar problems, namely the customers. Its pretty sad these reputable companies put their software protection,security, and $ above product reliability and customer satisfaction. If someone could e-mail me as how to how to resolve these problems my e-mail address is t.dukeman@yahoo.com Sincerely Ty A. Dukeman (AKA Tysdaman)

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