The Chronicles of Riddick DRM Sparks Outcry

By Chris Faylor, Apr 09, 2009 10:22am PDT Reports that the PC version of The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena can only be installed three times have sparked another round of outcry from the extremely vocal PC community, though publisher Atari says these reports aren't entirely accurate.

The PC version of Starbreeze's stealthy first-person shooter does indeed have a three-machine install limit, Atari told Shacknews in a statment, but customers can acquire more activations, assuming "it's a legitimate request," by calling the Atari hotline.

"We implement this protection in an effort to avoid early piracy," explained Atari. "The [initial] activation code lets you install the game on up to 3 machines, with an unlimited number of installs on each assuming that you don't change any major hardware in your PC or re-install your operating system."

Concerns arose earlier in the month after an Atari Forums post, citing PC Gamer, claimed that the DRM was non-revocable. This led many to believe that a copy of the PC game could only ever be installed three times, with no chance of recovery after that.

In response, Amazon.com was flooded with negative reviews and one-star ratings for the game. One review claimed that "DRM restrictions have left this game unplayable," adding "it isn't even any good." Another was titled "3 Installs: Piracy wins again".

Machine-based activation limits are nothing new in the land of PC DRM. Far Cry 2, Spore, Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box, Crysis Warhead, Dead Space and many other titles have used this particular technique in an attempt to restrict piracy.

Typically, legitimate owners can either revoke past installs or call customer support for assistance if they find themselves hampered by the limit.

An enhanced remake of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (PC, Xbox) with an entirely new campaign and the addition of multiplayer, Dark Athena (PC, PS3, X360) launched in North America this week, and arrives in Europe on April 24.

Thanks to everyone that sent this in.

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  • Doubtful that Atari decision makers sat around and said, "Woah we are really going to show the pirates...they have to CALL NOW!! YEAH! We stopped piracy! Company picnic with strippers!"

    This kind of DRM works to prevent a small amount of physical sharing, without going too far I might add. Like your friend borrowing the game at school then passing it on to 4 other people to load onto their PC's. A small portion of people might actually buy games from word of mouth but also might have borrowed the actual game before they would think of downloading illegally. Lets just say this is .5% of the RiddickPC sales.

    If I was running a business and knew I could increase profit by 0.5 or 1% on a product by eliminating a certain small element of software "sharing" with mild DRM, I would take the measures. Some people don't understand how much that .5% adds up to. I wouldn't put some insane starforce malware bullshit on it, but I'd try to work out something.

    Reactivation of the key after the 3rd install is only mildly annoying for this purpose. Sure doean't prevent cracking, but just for 1 second, think the people who actually run large companys have a plan you may not fully understand from behind your pile of mountain dew cans.