Saturday, 21 February 2009

Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 2 And It's Evil Installation Obstacle Course

PC gaming over the last year has taken a step too far in its attempts to halt piracy. The last few months has seen new games that require activation on Valve’s Steam service before one can install or play the game. Personally I have no problem with Steam, I think it’s a fine service and I like to support Valve as they are purveyors of excellent games. However, what was once a process that involved logging into Steam has now added a layer of extra security in the form of Games For Windows Live. Urgh.

This is the process you will have to go through to install Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II (you can tell it’s a PC game, it has a subtitle):

1. Insert disc.
2. See pretty installation screen with sound effects and big glowing buttons (as shown above).
3. Click the install button and wait for a progress bar to appear.
4. Be amazed when, instead of a progress bar or a destination folder option, a list of instructions appears.
5. Realise that you now need to either fire up Steam or visit Steam and create an account. If you don’t have a Steam account already you’ll have to go through Steam registration and installation.
6. Now once Steam is up and running, enter the licence code from the back of the manual and then wait for Steam to approve the installation.
7. At this point you realize it’s Thursday evening and the game hasn’t officially been released yet so Steam blocks the installation.
8. Grump a bit because it’s not your fault that sent it to you early and ask yourself why you should wait until Friday to install a game that you physically hold in your hands. Indulge in nostalgia as you remember the good old days of early 2008 when you could get a game from a day before release and start playing it before your friends, who rely on high street stores for their game purchases (the suckers).
9. Try again the next day where you repeat steps 1-7 again but skipping 8 this time because you’ve slept since then and forgotten what you were so angry about.
10. Steam verifies your code and allows you to install the game onto your PC. You can at this point feel very privileged that you are allowed to access the game you have paid for and can feel safe in the knowledge that you’re not a terrorist-funding games pirate.
11. Watch the installation progress bar or make a cup of tea. Mine’s milk and two sugars.
12. Now you have to install Games for Windows Live (or fire it up and login if you’ve already installed it).
13. If you don’t have Games for Windows Live then it’s time to visit the site, register and then install the crappy client.
14. Phew, this is taking a while isn’t it? Maybe you should have another cup of tea?
15. Now you’ve installed Games for Windows Live and picked an appropriate user icon and gamertag you can finally confirm that you’re not a terrorist/pirate and you can finally access the game.

But wait; what’s this, you have some unlockable content because you preordered? Well, it’s time to follow these simple steps (copied from’s own email guide):

"Please find below instructions for how to claim your pre-order bonus content:
1: Install the Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II Game. The Games for Windows Live Marketplace Client will also be installed. Once Live is installed you can login with an existing account (XBOX Live accounts will carry over) or register a new account for free.
2: Run the Games for Windows Marketplace Client and click the Marketplace Tab (this requires your LIVE ID)
3: Click on Redeem Code
4: Enter your unique pre-order bonus code as above (The content should now download)
5: Run the game - Your unlocked Wargear set is now available

Please Note: Unlocked Wargear set will only be available in “New” campaigns. If you have already started a campaign and then enter the code, that campaign will not be updated with your new Wargear."

Oh yeah, if you were desperate to play the game after spending half a day installing it and didn’t bother to redeem your preorder bonus straight away then guess what? You’ll have to start your campaign all over again chump!

I love PC gaming, I really do, but this new era of extreme copy protection is ridiculous and has made an internet connection essential to play games that really don’t need one.

For a more eloquent and reasoned argument about the evils of over zealous copy protection and DRM, I strongly advise visiting Rock Paper Shotgun's and Kiasa's harrowing accounts of GTA IV's traumatic installation process.

How is Dawn of War 2 you ask? I don't know, I haven't had time to play it after installing it!


BeeAye said...

I just got home from Ebgames were I had purchased a copy of Dawn of War 2. I live on an Indian reserve here in Canada, and I do not have an internet. connection. Sixty dollars or so later, I am stuck (because there no returning open pc games) with an expensive Warhammer coffee coaster.

Zoso said...

Yeesh. I'm a pretty relaxed kinda guy (or just lazy), and tend to stay out of the massive DRM threads at Rock Paper Shotgun and the like, but stuff like this and the GTAIV business is starting to get a bit silly. Dunno what we can do about it, though, plenty of more influential and eloquent people, including some in the games industry, don't seem to be having much effect. Hrm.

Aaron said...

@BeeAye That's a real shame. I'm sure games companies are missing out by strictly adhering to internet activation requirements. Not everyone has internet access and what happens to the paying customer when his/her connection goes down for a protracted length of time?

@Zoso The next step is probably to harness the power of the Angry Internet Man and create some kind of catchy meme or youtube song that leads to worldwide awareness about the inconvenience of DRM. It could be the next Chocolate Rain.

Rev/Views said...

It's things like this which have driven me to console gaming. My epic level of shenanigans with Spore which resulted in my having to download a pirated copy of the game in order to play a game I'd legitimately purchased was the final straw.

PC Gaming is dead to me except for flash games.

Anonymous said...

@aaron, in this day and age, a new Chocolate Rain about DRM inconvenience would make sense.
I myself already picture the title,
'Annoying Protection that's in vain.'
here are some lyrics.
"Annoying protection that's in vain, they give us games that need the internet again. etc, etc."