Mar 10, 2011

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EA Fails To Disclose SecuROM in Dragon Age II

EA Fails To Disclose SecuROM in Dragon Age II

Those of you who know me, know that I love Dragon Age: Origins and the Dragon Age universe.  You also know that I loathe DRM, especially SecuRom.  You can imagine how dismayed I was when I read a Reclaim Your Game report today revealing that despite not disclosing the fact anywhere on the game packing or even in the 28-page EULA, disc-based copies of Dragon Age II contain the destructive, intrusive DRM known as SecuRom.

While Reclaim Your Game, which acts as a gamer’s consumers’ rights advocacy group campaigning against oppressive DRM had praised EA for excluding SecuROM from Dragon Age: Origins, recent testing of the sequel compelled the site to give it an “Unacceptable” rating due to the inclusion of DRM and, most importantly, EA’s failure to disclose it anywhere to consumers.

In a recent email sent to their subscribers, representatives from RYG wrote:

“We have CONFIRMED from testing that it DOES contain SecuROM, and that it DOES leave files behind. We can also confirm that nowhere on the package, in the EULA or on the Website for the game is thee ANY mention of the inclusion of SecuROM. EA had been ordered by the courts to disclose the use of SecuROM on any game that uses it. And it is contradictory of what Bioware has been saying for the last 3 weeks.”

In their report, RYG cites multiple areas of concern, including:

  • Inconsistent information about DRM
  • No EULA for SecuROM
  • SecuROM files hidden from user
  • SecuROM files not removed after online activation
  • DRM removal tool not included; SecuROM remains even after user uninstalls game

And these are just some of the concerns noted in their report, which you can read in full as a pdf, here, or read their more detailed analysis (with screenshots), here.

Even though EA and Bioware had explicitly stated before the fact that SecuROM would not be included in the non-steam versions of Dragon Age II, and simply be there to verify the game wasn’t played ahead of release day (and would not install anything on your computer), RYG’s tests show otherwise.

EA was sued in the past (and lost) for the way it used SecuROM in its games, with Spore mean the most notorious, although later versions of The Sims 2 were also affected.  For those of you unfamiliar, SecuROM is a type of DRM (digital rights management) created by Sony – the same group that was sued before for DRM with music CDs – that installs itself onto your computer, without your knowledge, sends information to Sony (what information is never made clear), and worse, is not uninstalled when you uninstall the product with which it came.  SecuROM can only be installed with what basically amounts to a specifically designed virus removal tool, although many recommend reformatting your harddrive as the only true way to remove the spyware from your computer.  Moreso, SecuROM has been known to deactivate legitimate hardware and software on your computer, causing numerous problems, all without your consent, and all in a supposedly mad drive to prevent piracy by punishing paying gamers.

After losing the lawsuits over the mishandling of DRM in Spore and The Sims 2, EA was compelled to make full disclosure whenever SecuROM was included in one of their products, and is the reason I avoid purchasing digital copies of EA games outside of Steam, as most of these contain the DRM.  This current revelation is made worse by the fact that RYG apparently found EA guilty of this same deceit only a month ago with the PC version of Dead Space 2.  Apparently, EA has not learned their lessons after all.

As someone who pre-ordered early both the PC and PS3 versions of Dragon Age II, and who owns both Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition for PC and PS3 (I sold my PS3 copies of DA:O and DA: Awakenings to buy the Ultimate version), I feel truly betrayed.  As much as I love the franchise, if I had known about SecuRom, I would not have bought the PC version, and perhaps even abstained from the PS3 version out of principle, just as I have refused to buy an PC product by EA that contains any form of SecuROM.  If I hadn’t already installed the game onto my computer, and activated the bonus content, I would definitely return it.

I personally recommend that if you are a PC gamer and you oppose publishers trampling on their paying customers in this way, that you abstain from purchasing any EA product until they decide to remedy the situation somehow.  If you’re like me and already installed the game, let’s hope they have a patch soon (as they eventually released for The Sims 2), that will not only remove the malware, but still enable you to play the game without it.

I don’t support or condone piracy, but when you abuse your consumers – even those who went out of their way to pre-order your game months in advance – in this fashion, you only serve to alienate your loyal customers, and drive many of those to pirate games so they can enjoy what they paid for without having to be saddled with intrusive DRM.

[Source: Reclaim Your Game]