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Report: Gamers angry at DRM system from EA

PC gamers say the new digital rights management system is onerous and inconvenient, and makes them feel like the company is watching over their shoulders.

Over on Techdirt Thursday morning, there's a report about some angry PC users of Electronic Arts games.

The gamers are upset, according to a post in the Mass Effect forums, because EA is apparently implementing a new Internet-based digital rights management system, known as SecuROM, that they find onerous, intrusive, and inconvenient.

Techdirt writes that a new version of SecuROM being employed by EA "is causing controversy due to an online verification system connected to its CD key. The system requires a connection to the Internet during installation to check (that) the CD key is valid, and then registers the key with the users' computer. After this the game will try to re-check the CD key every 5-10 days to ensure it hasn't since been found posted on a forum, or used in some form of piracy."

Then, it seems, if the key cannot be verified, SecuROM will attempt to do so for 10 more days. If, after that period, it still cannot be verified, Techdirt writes, the game will be locked down.

Further, SecuROM seems to limit the number of times a game can be installed to three.

Systems like this are never going to be winners for companies like EA. For every copy of one of its games that it successfully keeps from being illegally copied, it's going to lose a good customer who's beyond annoyed at the way the system works and the way they feel they're being treated.

To be sure, software companies feel they have to fight tooth and nail to avoid being robbed due to the ease with which many programs can be copied. But it seems they would do well to run their antipiracy/DRM systems by their PR departments--or, if they're doing that already, then some outside consultants--to make sure that the systems aren't going to alienate their user bases.

If they're already doing that, they might want to consider seeking additional guidance. Because as the Sony rootkit scandal and other DRM PR nightmares have shown, users do not want to be controlled in this way. And they vote with their wallets.