I proudly present: The first Anti Game Usability Award 2008 (AGUA 2008)!
There is no judging panel or academy – it is just me, who gives away this prize. Why? Some games do not only deliver fun but also frustration due to bad interface design or other usability flaws. This prize is dedicated to the worst usability flaw or bug of 2008 and shall be an advice for game publishers and developers to do better in 2009.
The winner of this years AGUA is….SecuRom!
SecuRom is a CD / DVD copy protection product mainly used for windows-based computer games and was originally developed by Sony. SecuRom was one of the most controversial gaming topics in 2008 (and perhaps will be in 2009), because some functions of the software are similiar to malware and users were not always informed correctly that SecuRom was part of the product they bought. Some users reported also major technical issues with SecuRom. Most SecuRom versions force the customer to activate a game via internet to control the numbers of installations. Some versions were even cancelling the installation if the software detected a cd or dvd burning software on the system (Fallout 3). The discussion was amplified by a lot of popular games making use of the SecuRom protection like e.g. BioShock, Spore, Grand Theft Auto IV, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 and Sacred 2.
The official reason given by the industry for the use SecuRom is to fight piracy and to prevent games being sold second-hand. But even SecuRom cannot prevent the piracy of a product. Some people even claim that e.g. Spore`s piracy problem is the result of the SecuRom copy protection (Spore was the most shared game on peer-to-peer networks in 2008).
Here is an example of what you have to do, before you can play GTA IV on the PC (Source: www.gamestar.de):
- Licence contract must be accepted.
- The disk has to be in the drive while playing.
- Install SecuRom, DirectX, Microsoft .NET Framework, current service patches for Windows, Games for Windows Live, Adobe Flash and Rockstar`s Multiplayer Software “Social Club”.
- Create user accounts for Windows Live and Social Club.
- Activate the game via Internet.
- Enter 25-digit key.
Congratulations, installation complete
Luckily, I have the console version. So, just give a second – why is the pc market shrinking again? It seems like the gaming industry didn`t learn its lesson out of the DRM problems the music industry had.
There were many discussions going on game magazines and discussion boards wether the use of copy protection software like SecuRom has an impact on game reviews or not. Some magazines and reviews included the copy protection as one of the product`s features, others did not.
In my opinion, the user experience starts with unboxing your game and that`s why the SecuRom copy protection gets the first Anti Game Usability Award 2008. Congratulations!