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Talk:The big list of third-party DRM on Steam

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Mirh (talkcontribs)

ME1 is reported to be drm free, at least on Steam
Still, one of the thread of the game (monitored with Process Explorer) is called MassEffect.exe!SecuROM, even though it could be even a name leftover

Garrett (talkcontribs)

I checked the Bring Down the Sky installer and it looks like the list entry is correct. The DLC installer applies the regular Patch 1.02 installer which has SecuROM 7 DRM on MassEffect.exe (according to PROTECTiON iD).

I don't have the Steam version of this game to test whether the patch installer successfully replaces Steam's normal executable with this SecuROM one; either way it should be possible to install the DLC, delete MassEffect.exe and then verify the cache to restore Steam's version of MassEffect.exe.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

The patch installers (at least those inside DLCs...) does not replace masseffect.exe. Otherwise the game wouldn't even launch (and I would have noticed d:) But the DLC installers are coded in such a way that if they detect the Steam "flavour" key in the registry, they won't run that
My observation was referring exactly to the original Steam executable. Anyway I checked it with that nice tool (PROTECTiON iD) and it only reports steam protection. So.. I think it's fine.

Even though it's strange that Steam .exe is still 20MB big (whereas in GTA:San Andreas for example, securom removal slimmed down the exe from 15 to 5MB)

Garrett (talkcontribs)

Ah, that makes sense. I've updated the list now.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

Little note
Even though there's no trace of anything other than game files...
Patch installer were (are?) able to install whatever else they wanted. In this case a weird shell extension... :\

Garrett (talkcontribs)

The DLC installer can be extracted manually (I think I used 7-Zip) so the DLC could be installed that way without the bundled patch if needed.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

I know, I used 7-zip too.
What I wanted to point out was that.. I compared 1.01 and 1.01a patch (the latter probably fixed the issue with windows explorer crashing)
But.. the only different file was the game executable (masseffect.exe), which is everything but a shell extension

So there must be something that 7-zip can't see. And this surprised me

Garrett (talkcontribs)

7-Zip doesn't extract installation scripts for some formats (which can contain registry changes etc. applied by the installer) so that's probably where those changes are located.

Special extractors exist for certain installer formats but I don't have the DLC installer downloaded at the moment to check what format it uses and whether its changes can be discovered that way; failing that any registry changes can be captured using regshot.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

That's true, but shell extensions should be tied to a .dll afaik
Patches can be found here anyway

Updates with Protection ID reports/links.

Goteki (talkcontribs)

Few things are out of date on this list, so I'm providing some info to get them up to date:

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper, and Sherlock Holmes: The Awakening - Remastered have all had their third-party DRM removed. Full PID scan for each of the games below:

06:30:02 | C:\Steam\SteamApps\common\The Testament of Sherlock Holmes\game.exe | Steam Api | Possible CD/DVD-Key or Serial Check

06:30:03 | C:\Steam\SteamApps\common\The Testament of Sherlock Holmes\steam_api.dll | Steam Client API Module v01.23.45.93

06:31:08 | E:\Steam\steamapps\common\sherlock holmes the awakened - remastered\game.exe | Steam Detected | Possible CD/DVD-Key or Serial Check

06:31:31 | E:\Steam\steamapps\common\Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper\game.exe | Steam Detected | Possible CD/DVD-Key or Serial Check

Risen no longer uses Tages, however it WILL ATTEMPT to install Tages if the user runs the game before removing the Tages installation files. Link: and

The files in question to remove are:

06:24:24 | E:\Steam\steamapps\common\risen\bin\TagesClient.exe | Tagès Activation Client v.

06:24:37 | E:\Steam\steamapps\common\risen\redist\tages\TagesSetup.exe | TagesSetup v.

06:24:37 | E:\Steam\steamapps\common\risen\redist\tages\TagesSetup_x64.exe | TagesSetup v.

--Goteki (talk) 13:52, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

Could Fallout 3 GFWL qualify as "inert DRM"?

Faalagorn (talkcontribs)

I got the feeling that the current situation of Fallout 3's GFWL is what Bethesda considered for "removal". I remember people expecting GFWL maybe to be removed before Fallout 4 release, but it never happened fully. Guess they didn't want to intervene into the game files too much and also left GFWL for "compatibility" with those wanting to use it for achievements. I updated the article to reflect that the new CD-keys (old old ones, if you lost yours) can not be obtained on Steam, although it is possible to use another GFWL key to activate it (as it's a legacy title) - relevant entries in SteamDB for reference: [1] [2]. They also removed the sharing flag, but only on the GOTY version. I'm pretty sure they simply forgot about Fallout 3 since it's superseded by cheaper GOTY bundle nowadays. They also removed the GFWL notice in Steam Store.

The situation is kinda bit similar to what the developers of Toy Soldiers did, they basically only edited the database entry without touching the files, although they had a separate EXE that prevented GFWL overlay from launching at all, which made me move them to "Inert". However I kinda think that the situation of Fallout 3 is somewhat similar and might be worth moving it too. It's worth mentioning it was also listed as removed here, back in 2014 [3].

What's your opinion?

Mirh (talkcontribs)

The answer is maybe.

It mostly depends on how you see the neverending issue over which rights (those a DRM supposedly limits) user even has.

Hoping you aren't part of the extremist camp (for which no matter what, superfluous software is always a constraint) I guess the only thing GFWL local profile is still limiting is mod-ability.

Only if you don't think so then (and presuming you don't need even once to go online for instance) for as much GFWL-itself is still required we might consider it[s DRM part] inert.

Garrett (talkcontribs)

The client is still used, so some players might want to know about it for that reason (as with Kalypso Launcher).

BONKERS (talkcontribs)

We need to start building a list of games that use this POS DRM scheme. I refuse to buy any game that uses such crap.

ON their website they claim "Does Denuvo Anti-Tamper affect my SSD or any other type of hard drives in any way?

No. As mentioned before, Denuvo Anti-Tamper does not constantly read or write any data to storage media. "

"Early reports from Slavic language tech-focused sites are suggesting that playing the game for about 40 minutes caused over 150,000 data rewrites - or roughly 10,000 times more often than any other game in recent memory that didn't use Denuvo's copy protection."

This is in regards to Dragon Age Inquisition.

Anonymous (talkcontribs)

"Early reports from Slavic language tech-focused sites are suggesting that playing the game for about 40 minutes caused over 150,000 data rewrites - or roughly 10,000 times more often than any other game in recent memory that didn't use Denuvo's copy protection."

...and have you actually looked for these alleged Slavic-language reports? I did, and I found a long string of comments leading back to, which cites a source from Facepunch. Every attempt to replicate these results I've found on both Dragon Age: Inquisition and on games which use Denuvo have failed.

I'm calling false info driven by the anti-DRM hivemind.

Garrett (talkcontribs)

Expack3 has addressed the drive claims while I was writing this. I wouldn't seriously consider this until some more trustworthy source has tested it directly. Obfuscation increases reads and execution overhead (since it's basically using deliberately unoptimised code) but it wouldn't need that many extra writes since a decrypted result isn't being stored permanently.

As for games using Denuvo I think Lords of the Fallen is the only one on Steam so far; confirmed cases outside of Steam are currently FIFA 14, FIFA 15 and the aforementioned Dragon Age: Inquisition.

The Denuvo website previously had a Who we work with section showing Rockstar and various others (leading to speculation that Grand Theft Auto V might use it). Either way it looks like most (all?) upcoming EA titles are using Denuvo.

BONKERS (talkcontribs)

Whether it causes problems or not.

Shit like this is completely unwarranted. I'm sick of layering DRM on DRM. Treating paying customers like criminals, requiring them to jump through endless hoops. It gets old.

It's only a matter of time before the DRM is cracked and pirates will continue to keep'a'crackin

Mirh (talkcontribs)

DRMs are not meant to last forever. Just long enough to persuade miser assholes that have the money, but don't care about others's work to buy the game.
In reality I think publishers are already fine if they last for a week.
And indeed this resisted 46 days with FIFA 14. Still uncracked for both FIFA 15 and lords of the fallen.

You could even call something like starforce the worst protection ever created... but at least it stand for almost 15 months with chaos theory before falling.
The legends about broken DVD player might even be true, but more than a year is definitively a big thing

Now, yeah, if say GTA:SA was protected by something like denuvo, modding scene would be entirely different (and the game still broken). Though this seems pretty straightforward, besides some unconfirmed tests

Or are you experiencing problems yourself?

EDIT: of course when protection has been broken, or enough time is passed, if you are not dumb you should remove it.

BONKERS (talkcontribs)

No, I am not experiencing problems. I just dont' care for or trust how companies handle this kind of stuff.

Piracy =/= always a lost sale. So many people never intend to buy the game in the first place. This isn't going to get them any new sales or save them any money since none is lost in the first place. (Only in their minds , theoretical money that doesn't exist) And then you have legitimate paying customers , who are the ones forced to put up with it.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

1 pirated copy ≠ 1 sold copy

But if I take 10 pirated copy, at least 3 of these people have the money, but are just the kind of aforementioned greedy morons.
They are the reason for me justifying DRMs in some cases.

Then you could probably have your stories with crappy protections, where the cure is worse than the disease... but I don't think this problem is technically intrinsic

Mirh (talkcontribs)

Just to enliven the discussion, denuvo even deny to be a DRM by itself, claiming it's just an anti-tamper solution that works on top of other -already existing- DRMs such as Steam or Origin

Garrett (talkcontribs)

Denuvo Anti-Tamper appears to use online authentication of a hardware hash (hence the existence of an offline activation page for Lords of the Fallen) which sounds like standard DRM behaviour to me.

I don't have a Denuvo game to test this for myself but it seems like it wouldn't be possible to install and play one of these games if the server isn't available for this first-run authentication process.

Their assertion that it assists existing DRM is because it authenticates the hardware hash against a Steam/Origin account rather than a traditional product key (so it isn't a standalone solution).

Crysis 2 Maximum Edition still appears to have SolidShield

Cyanic (talkcontribs)

It looks like Crysis 2 Maximum Edition still contains SolidShield, in addition to SteamStub. The SolidShield doesn't seem to actually impose any restrictions, and runs fine after SteamStub is stripped, launched outside of Steam. You can find strings referring to SolidShield inside the EXE and a whole bunch of PROTECT* sections if you look at it in a PE editor. I find it kind of stupid that they tacked SteamStub on to the game, considering it's already wrapped, and the forcing start from Steam function can be achieved through Steamworks even without Steam running.

How should this be handled? Move the game back up to the TAGES section, or just add a note about it?

Garrett (talkcontribs)

If it doesn't do anything it is probably a harmless remnant and/or the obfuscation product (SolidShield Wrapper); obfuscation does not enforce access/activation restrictions so doesn't count as DRM for the purposes of this list.

Cyanic (talkcontribs)

OK, I'll update the notes to state that although it's wrapped, the DRM doesn't pose restrictions.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

It may even be just a leftover (like SecuROM in mass effect steam edition)
Are there any way to actually detect if it's active code or just junk?

Garrett (talkcontribs)

In the case of SolidShield a game will either activate silently during installation (as with the original Crysis 2) or display an activation prompt. Games that don't do either aren't using the activation feature.

DRM types with dedicated removal tools (e.g. SecuROM) are easier since the tool can be used to show what DRM data is present; if a removal tool doesn't detect anything after running a game that means it isn't using the activation feature since even silent activation will install DRM data that the tool can then detect.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

Besides the removal tool, I think you can directly check for the existence of %APPDATA%\SecuROM\ folder

Anyway if I correctly understood solidshield website, they have 2 types of product:

  • Solidshield Activation (which seems the usual DRM and it's what you was referring to in the crysis 2 example)
  • Solidshield Wrapper.. which seems more an anti reverse engineering protection. The executable is encrypted and that's it.

In the later case.. I am neither sure it could really be considered a DRM as safedisc, tages, starforce, nor if there would some ways to detect it, besides hex analysis/disassembling

Uplay/Assassin's Creed

Anonymous (talkcontribs)

Does the first one also require Uplay? I was quite sure that only later titles used Uplay in all releases, with the first one being relatively free of integration with any services. I see no mention of this on the store page either.

Blackbird (talkcontribs)

No it doesn't require uPlay at all. ACII was first one to use it.

Gotham City Impostors

Faalagorn (talkcontribs)

Gotham City Impostors bought on Steam prior to F2P update can still be played with GFWL. Devs even added a note about F2P Steamworks version after registration, so GFWL version is not totally deprecated, although can not be bought anymore (and Store page redirects to F2P). Although I haven't checked that, I think it's similar to GOTY and non-GOTY versions of Batmans (asylum & city). This page should list non-F2P version similar to how batmans are handled, since it's a separate entry, so I updated the page to reflect that. I also removed Impostors from Removed DRM, since no DRM was removed in any patch. Simply a new co-existing version of the game was created instead.

Test Drive: Ferraria Racing Legends

Nicereddy (talkcontribs)

Store page.

Steam Community Discussions topic.

This game doesn't have GFWL listed anywhere on its store page, but multiple sources confirm it existing. I'm not sure which section it would go under, so someone else can add it.

Garrett (talkcontribs)

Thanks, I've added it now.

For reference the List of Games for Windows - LIVE games lists all GFWL games with the same sections as this page, so if others are missing it's easy enough to copy them over (with the exception of the Marketplace only titles; these don't have GFWL elsewhere). (talkcontribs)

Dark Void, NecroVision, NecroVision: Lost Company. Dark Void also seems to have some deactivated Games for Windows Live components, Steam automatically installs it, but it doesn't appear ingame.

Garrett (talkcontribs)

Thanks for the information. Dark Void installing GFWL is a mistake on their part; only the Games for Windows Marketplace version has GFWL integration.

Kid Of The Century (talkcontribs)

I was looking for SecuROM in my registry, in light of the recent removal from Batman Arkham titles, and I found two titles with SecuROM folder I didn't expect in the slightest. They're:

• Deus Ex Invisible War

• Thief Deadly Shadows

(Both of them on Steam, ofc) Their DRM might be inert or just a bunch of leftover files, either way they're not mentioned in the article...

Garrett (talkcontribs)

Thanks for noticing that. This text was used by the games to show SecuROM error messages and isn't made by SecuROM itself; even the versions still make them. I double-checked the Steam version of Deadly Shadows with Protection ID and the SecuROM Removal Tool and neither detected SecuROM.

I've added both games to Removed DRM with an explanation.

Disadvantage WARNING: Games for Windows Live multiplayer is shutting down on July 1, 2014.[5] This will make some GFWL games or sections of games unplayable.

Motoki (talkcontribs)

Regarding the statement that Games for Windows Live multiplayer is shutting down, this has not been confirmed directly by Microsoft and should be taken as speculation until and unless it is. The statement that is the basis for this briefly appeared on the Age of Empires Online page before it was taken down, however we do not know the reasons why it was taken down. It could have been erroneous. Microsoft could have changed their minds. We don't know.

It may yet be shut down in July 2014 but presenting that as fact based on a screenshot of something posted on a single game's web site that was quickly removed is really shaky ground.

Additionally, I feel as though it's poor form that the source being cited is PCGamingwiki. I realize that is partially because the quote in question was removed, however a site citing itself as a source is circular logic and I don't think that's something that should ever be done.

Nicereddy (talkcontribs)

It should be clearly presented as a rumor, but not removed from the page altogether. It's essentially regarded as fact at this point and Microsoft has yet to make a comment saying it isn't going to happen, which would be logical from a PR standpoint should they have something good to say.

As for your latter comment, I think the self-sourcing is definitely something we may want to talk about. I'm not sure how we should handle that.

Garrett (talkcontribs)

I have replaced the reference with one from PC Gamer. The wording of the section intro could still be clearer, of course, so that's something to look into.