GOG's FCK DRM initiative

They asked for people to share stories, and I figured I’d do it here instead. I have two big ones that stand out in my memory:

  1. I couldn’t play Discworld Noir without a no-CD crack because its stupid DRM only worked on Win 9x.
  2. Red Alert 2 somehow came to the conclusion that I had a pirated version so it blew up my base after some 5 minutes. I think it had something to do with accidentally putting the disc in the “wrong” drive, i.e., whichever one wasn’t used to install the game.

A few other random memories:

  • I installed Steam in '04 or '05 to play CS: Source and it was an invasive nightmare. It couldn’t run in the background on startup because it slowed down everything to a crawl, and it thought some combination of my skill and my 100 MBit connection was the sign of a suspicious cheater.
    I’m upper tier mediocre or possibly low-level almost good at shooters at best, but I can or at least could have my occasional moments of two or three headshots in the span of one or two seconds… at least Quake 3 never thought I was a cheater for killing up to half a dozen people in a second or two with elegantly placed rockets while doing a rocket jump pirouette… those were the days. In third-person replays that looked freaking epic.
    But anyway, everyone who’s done some instagib “battle royales” (as they call 'em these days) or deathmatches in Unreal should have the exact same skillset. As I imagine should anyone who’s played some CS itself… it’s called a shooter ffs.
  • I picked up Anno 1404 on a whim around 2010 or 2011 because it was on sale for less than €5 and to this day I’m flabbergasted that I somehow managed to run that without resorting to cracks.
  • I bought GTA4 in some kind of sale as a Steam thing. Perhaps I should’ve been more vigilant, but it was actually some kind of Steam veneer on top of Windows Live nonsense. I decided to stick with it to see if I could have as much fun with it as with San Andreas (I couldn’t) but had I known I probably wouldn’t have purchased it. GTA4 mainly “survived” by virtue of all the older GTA games being included in the deal.

DRM directly caused me to ignore video games nigh completely for years, until about half a decade ago Humble Bundle popped up on my radar with neat so-called indie games. Humble Bundle is just a DRM pusher these days, but since 2014 I’ve been happy on GOG.


I would like to add that you can get DRM free games in other stores too - especially Itch.io and the Humble Store.

I just simply don’t buy games with DRM and/or on Steam - if they aren’t outstanding games like The Cave. (And that was the only game I bought on Steam ever. :slight_smile: )


How do you find them?

On Humble there’s an obvious filter: The Humble Store: Great games. Fantastic prices. Support charity.

They are all DRM free. (Or let’s say: I haven’t found a game on Itch that has actually DRM.)

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It literally took me a second to find a whole selection of Steam DRM. :stuck_out_tongue:


You get the steam key as an addition to the DRM free game.

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When they say Steam key included, fair enough. You can clearly see which files you get so I imagine something like The_Last_Dogma_1.6_DRM_FREE.zip probably isn’t lying. That’s the first result there…

But these games look very Steam-only to me:
(second result)

(third result)

(random slightly further down result)

So as far as I can tell I don’t have the plain ease of use of just knowing like I do on GOG or even Humble. I would have to excessively double check. I don’t like that.

I’ve seen that too, and the name had me smiling :slight_smile:.

DRM has definitely bitten me:

  • I’ve got quite a few old games I’m conveniently running in FS-UAE, but the manuals required for the copy protection quiz are stored away in the basement.
  • Back then, when I still used Windows for gaming, I didn’t enable internet access out of paranoia, so any games requiring online activation or (god forbid!) came with always-online-DRM basically disqualified themselves.
  • Nowadays, getting a physical edition of a game, more often than not gets you the Steam version. Always a big struggle between the collector in me, and the DRM-objector that would rather buy on GOG (Kudos for the TWP physical edition, in that regard!). Of course, a few select games do not require the Steam client once installed.

In the end, I never bought a game that I couldn’t play because of its DRM (though there were games I did not buy), but I’ve definitely been inconvenienced.

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What about GOG Galaxy then?
I was recently seduced to install a game using that instead of my usual “offline” installation. Just so I could play it with achievements.
I have to enter my credentials? Then I have to wait for GOG Galaxy to update? Technically it might still be DRM-free (although with that required login…:thinking:), but you get exactly all the frustrating additional hoops you need to jump through as with Steam.


What about the email address at the bottom of that page then?

iwantto @ fckdrm . com

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Well, except you don’t need to jump through any of those hoops, except for some more questionable multiplayer DRM things. I do wish they’d stop pushing it so much though.

I saw that, yeah. :slight_smile:

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Just for the records: I haven’t said that every game is DRM free on Itch. I’ve bought many games on Itch and all of them were DRM free. I never stumbled over the games you found, it’s the first time I see them. :slight_smile:

You don’t have to buy on Itch or in the Humble Store, but they are selling DRM free games too. So the FCK DRM campaign is (in its current state) just an advertisement for Gog.

They did cleverly make it about “a 100% DRM-free source.” It seems a bit nasty to exclude Humble that way, but I remain rather unconvinced by this Itch thing given that it failed the basic criterion of filtering for DRM-free. It’s obviously better than Steam, but that’s a fairly low bar.

It’s also an advertisement for various other commercial parties, such as Bandcamp, where I bought the TWP soundtrack, 7Digital, and emusic (never heard of those two). It’s missing Qobuz imo. Of course among commercial parties there’s also Vimeo on Demand.

I don’t really understand their owner qualification in what @Sushi quoted previously either:

So imagine I’d like to see Qobuz listed, I’d have to contact Qobuz to ask if they can contact FCK DRM? Seems rather roundabout.

(Or would they exclude Qobuz because they offer a presumably DRM-ed streaming service besides the DRM-free store? That’d be nasty, imo.)

On itch.io you can distribute anything you like, it’s very friendly for distributors.
On the other hand consumers get stuff like you have posted above, e.g. a text file telling you how to redeem a Steam game :-1:

Bottom line is you always have to read carefully the descriptions and check which files you will actually get.

It’s mainly a problem with lazy implementation of achievements. Shovel Knight for instance just shows them in-game. They have a separate menu item to browse through them which works with every DRM-free release of the game.

They have to push it to be able to compete with something like Steam. Most gamers want convenience and don’t care about much else. Auto-update and achievements are a must these days.

Luckily GOG doesn’t enforce having achievements otherwise a lot of games would be missing from there, maybe even TWP.

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Who needs achievements anyway?

The devs. Surely all of those “chapter finished” things are just a relatively benign form of progress tracking? :wink:

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If you want to use online features, which achievements are most of the time, you need to be online. That’s not DRM. Especially when you can use all offline features without ever going online.

The only offline achievements I know of are in Minecraft. That game has its own DRM anyway, though.

One case, I regret buying with DRM was not a game, but a movie. It’s True Lies in HD. They have it on Videoload, which is the streaming service of Deutsche Telekom. The encryption they use ridiculously pushes my CPU to its limits, resulting in frame drops. Even worse, I only learned later, that I bought a license for PC viewing only, but would need to purchase again to watch it on any supported media receiver or television set. Every other streaming service would tie the purchase to your account, but not to a certain device. That’s outrageous. I would never buy anything from them again for sure.

Achievements are an offline feature. They just aren’t when implemented using an online service like Steam or GOG Galaxy but even then games need to keep track of their state, like TWP. TWP is basically just missing the UI for showing achievements…

Achievements can be tied to online features though, e.g. getting special items when unlocking some achievement or being able to brag online about them. But the basic feature doesn’t need any online functionality.

Yes, devs use them for this purpose but AFAIK it’s mostly gamers demanding having achievements.

Steam achievements are an online feature. Steam keeps track of them on its servers and does all the statistics with them. If you play Steam games offline, you won’t get achievements. I guess, other platforms are very similar to this. I never tried GOG Galaxy, since I don’t really care for achievements.

Sure, achievements could be designed as an offline feature, but companies aren’t interested in doing that. Minecraft (Java edition) seems to be the exception there.