Bethesda: Fallout 3 DRM Not as Intrusive as Spore

There has been some talk around the ‘Net this week that the PC version of Fallout 3 is sporting SecuROM, the same intrusive copy protection scheme that caused so much controversy for Spore last month.

But a post on publisher Bethesda’s blog claims that Fallout 3 only uses SecuROM to verify the disc:

For Fallout 3’s copy protection on PC, we use the same security model as we did for Oblivion – a simple disc check. We only use SecuRom’s disc check functionality for copy protection. We do NOT limit the number of installs. We do NOT use online authentication or any other SecuROM functionality except for a disc check when you install the game and when you launch the game. We do not install any other programs and we don’t have anything that runs in the background while you’re playing the game.

GP: Bethesda is clearly attempting to avert a consumer rebellion like the one waged against Spore. You know, the one about which EA ‘s CEO remarked that half of the complainers were pirates and the other half were too dumb to know any better.


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  1. JC says:

    Hitting a conglomerate’s branch won’t do much to the whole company.

    It is better to simply refuse to buy a product with said software on it.

  2. AuntySocial says:

    I believe instead of just refusing to buy products with securom, we should boycott the parent manufactuer of the offal.  Yes, Sony.  If enough people hit Sony in their pocketbook, maybe that will work.

    Insanity has its toll. Please have exact change.

  3. Spartan says:

    D-toid is already running with a story on this – Read it here:

    Things may get interesting but not in a good way methinks – Beth is pretty cool afterall (minus its forum operations).

    ————————————————————————— "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  4. Doctor Panda says:

    Haha, I don’t know what the big fuss is. I have the PC version of this game and I can’t play it *anyway* because of the ridiculous number of bugs causing it to crash every 10 minutes. Literally.

    Now I’d be happy to try to pin that on Securom but I think it’s the go with any bethesda product (or any fallout title for that matter).





  5. DarkNoah says:

    When I installed it my spybot did bring up a .dll that was being installed into the System32 folder, I cannot remember the name for the life of me but when I read the info about it I am pretty sure that it did not involve Sony or SecuROM at all.

    Yet again I want to state that by just having the name SecuROM even remotely near your game is causing the A-bomb to occur. The thing is that from what I had read from someone’s review on Amazon is that yes it does use SecuROM v.7 but it only uses the disk check function. Yes it is using the "bad boy" version of SecuROM but it only uses the oldest function of it, of which it doesn’t do anything else.  It is just people panicking over something that no one has gotten all the facts out. Beth needs to put up a huge statement involving this thing before it really gets out of hand.

  6. GrimCW says:

    beth already said it. the version used is an older disc check only securom, not to be confused with the modern limit the customers use of the application version.

    though there is rumor its actually a newer version that is still disc check only, but installs a temp .dll that searches out disc emulation and burning programs and will prevent the install.

    though as i mention above, i never had an issue with it and i run both Daemon and Nero, i also never had the same problem with starforce… it just took freaken FOREVER to load the bloody games :/

  7. GrimCW says:

    not true, the steam version has been confirmed to NOT carry the securom security in any form.

    no need to since theres no disc and its only a disc check.

    the bioshock one wasn’t a botch either, that was intentional, just like it being ins team versions of crysis and the Euro version of Stalker clear sky.

    but thats because those games use the new limited installs security, not the old disc check security.

  8. Spartan says:

    Well if that is the case (I dont personally know yet) Someone at Beth had better give a clear explanation of what is going on before the a-bombing effect takes off and really hurts the game.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  9. DarkNoah says:


    As a person who has been who has been following this for a while and has installed the game multiple times, also I want to point out that I am using Vista Ultimate:

    Using the many instructions involving removing SecuROM, Fallout 3 does not install anything. I have checked my registry, my System32, my Application data nothing is there. I have installed the game 3 times to make sure but nothing is installed. Unless this version of SecuROM is doing something completely new, this game does not install it onto you system. The only possibility is that it is directly in the launcher of the game making it a part of the game, but other than that as I said before there isn’t really a trace of it.

    People are just getting worked up over the name of SecuROM being dropped by the people who discovered what powered the disk check; personally I just feel they used a hammer to do the job of a fly swatter with this.



  10. MrKlorox says:

    I also don’t get any issues when trying to launch without the disc. Turns out I didn’t need to download that mini-image after all. Could this be because of the Windows Live key?

  11. MrKlorox says:

    Same for the retail copy. The only key code is used to link the game with your Windows Live account/XBLA gamertag; which is completely optional.

  12. MrKlorox says:

    This is why I purchased Fallout 3 and not Far Cry 2. FC2 has the same DRM as SPORE, including 5 activation limit. I will happily purchase Far Cry 2 once the 5 activation limit if done away with.

  13. Spartan says:

    Not so. You supported the DRM by getting the game in the first place. Moreover despite your belief that you are legal you are in fact not as far as Beth is concerned. So be careful.  



    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  14. Parallax Abstraction says:

    We’re both right as it turns out.  According to GameCopyWorld, Oblivion did not use SecuROM but the Shivering Isles expansion added it.  I am also referring to the US version here.  I don’t know who publishes for Bethesda in other regions and if they have their own DRM requirements.

  15. Spartan says:

    Yep I have to agree. A love party would have done wonders for sales no doubt.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  16. TheEggplant says:

    OK let’s get a few things straight.
    First of all if the game has SecuROM on the disc then it has SecuROM on Steam.
    This was proven with the Bioshock cock-up.
    Second, the problem isn’t with every version of SecuROM. Mostly it is version 7 that draws the hate. v.7 caused the Bioshock cock-up. v.7 ran UAservice7.exe every 20 minutes, which consumed 90% of my CPU, which turned Bioshock into a stuttering mess. It then refused to go away requiring a complete Windows reinstall.
    Then there was the conspiracy inducing text on the SecuROM website about its user information gathering abilities. That text has since been removed along with the photo of the Sony DADC building in Austria. They were there priviously though, I’ve seen them myself.
    Beth. should have taken the money they gave Sony and launched an add campaign instead.

  17. Cecil475 says:

    hey, cjovalle,

    I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but failure to recognize the disc is the precursor for failure to recognize the drive.  Yes, the next step is for your computer to not recognize your cd/dvd rom.  It has already happened to me.


    Aunty Social (using Warren’s account as I cannot remember my password and am not on my computer, but his)


    I’m Cecil475 and I approve this message.

     – Warren Lewis

    R.i.P GamePolitics 2005-2016

  18. GrimCW says:

    that disc check IS the OLD securom, its been around for ages and has been used since the early Win95, and probably before days. dunno how long ya been gaming, but thats how its been for a LONG time.

    or its the old safedisc one which uses a digital signature instead, either wayalls it does is check for a certain file to be on the disc. But sometimes the game gets confused and tries to read from emulation drives by mistake, or the developer puts into the install code to check FOR the emulation programs and may warn about them or refuse to install because of their presence.

    that WAS a form of securom and still IS a form of securom. It’s merely a very old version of the protection that didn’t include installed data as part of it.

    i’ve got Fallout 3 here anyways and it never installed anything new, nore does it even require the disc inserted. I don’t know what anyones going on about unless they already have spore DRM bogging their system.

    or theres differant DRM on the differant region versions

    the games for windows live thing is a security thing in its own, a bad one.. but its better than the new securom, and more like steam… aside from it constantly scans for hacks and whatnot which causes lag constantly in games that use it (at least it did in GoW and Halo 2)

    i have both Nero AND daemon tools installed and ACTIVE and had no issues. as i’ve said, it hits some, but not others, why? who knows.

  19. Neo_DrKefka says:

    DRM sucks let’s face it and because of banned material and DRM more and more people are pirating products because honestly it’s safer for your computer to use.

    Fallout 3 honestly uses a better system then the system that publishers have had tried to push recently.


    As of late there have been games delayed for six months or more so far because they are trying to add in DRM so note that most games will be delayed for DRM

  20. ZippyDSMlee says:

    I have my game mounted on the HDD using Daemon tools and I must say they could ahve gone the extra mile to make it not be mountable and they did not even if securom is lulzy bucking the DRM trend and trying to buck the crappy 50$ game trend is fcking amazeing!

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  21. wiregr says:

    Explain to me how securom makes any part of the gaming experience better?

    Lately games have been hitting torrent sites days before they reach shelves and with securom already stripped out. Kinda rules out the claim that it has any efficacy whatsoever in cutting down on piracy.

  22. J.Alpha.Gamma says:

    Game companies should use Apogee’s old sales model; release a shareware version with a few levels for free download, then give the customer the option of purchasing the full game at any time if they like it.

    Along with the long list of other fixes like lowering game prices and pretty much avoiding every mistake EA’s made just this year.

  23. Parallax Abstraction says:

    No, Oblivion did NOT use the same system.  It had no DRM system whatsoever.  All the game did was check for the presence of a certain file on the disc when you ran it.  It was part of the game code and not a 3rd party system like SecuROM.  You could make a standard copy of the DVD using any burning software and it would read.  I know because I tried it.  It was NOT SecuROM.  And yes, I did own the game.  I made an image to mount so I wouldn’t need to always have the disc in the drive.

  24. turdevo says:

    well said – it’s just a matter of time, and time of young hakers is costless while big companies recharge on game prices all this crap.

    The question is: how Id’s Doom had such a large success without having any securom, DRM or any sort of protection on Doom and giving for free almost half of the game as a demo?


  25. GrimCW says:

    that problem has been there since day 1 with the disc check version of securom, it was never as bad as say starforce, but its always been there.

    i don’t know how many games you’ve played, but the version that bethesda uses IS the same as the one on oblivion, and its the same thats been used on numerous games of the past, and has had the issues with nero/daemon and so on the whole time.

    the oddball thing is it effects some people as not liking the apps, but doesn’t hurt others (such as, despite how many times i’ve read about people having issues with the DRM and apps like Daemon, i’ve never had that issue myself, not once, and i’ve had daemon tools on my comp for years now.)

    as for not liking certain DVD drives.. that too is NOTHING new, many games in the past have not been compatible with more modern DVD drive, they either won’t install right, or the drive just won’t read the disc.

    i remember i had one disc that would read fine in my old  schools computer, but my comp at home with a much newer DVD drive would blast the laser right through the cheap thin label and was totally unable to even read the disc.

    i do know what your complaining about, but this is nothing new to the old disc security checks. not even in the slightest.

    let alone is it the first time i’ve ever heard negative mention of an Asus drive…


    BTW its not "invasive" unless its INSTALLING things onto your system, so erm… nuff said.

  26. garrett says:

    I’ve had issues with DRM in the past, and actually had to go out of my way to replace an EXE file, or find a patch so the game would work.  So I can certainly understand the frustrations of some folks, with legitamite copies in hand, having a world of trouble.

    But F3 is working with Daemon tools, Nero somewhere in my registry, and yes, I do have some Alcohol in the house. Each of these have different fuctions that are not used for pirating games, so I am glad F3 has no issues with it. (Amid this, I turn off background functions for more memory). I don’t mind it, but if it ever gets in the way, I will look for a solution.

    However, there is a rumor, and if turns out to be true, you heard it here first, that Fallout 3 uses another type of copy protection similar to FADE. Hard to detect. So the longer you play, the funkier the game gets. Great copy protection, as it still allows you to play, but by the end of the game, or perhaps the 5th copy of a copy, the game won’t, let’s say, allow you to target correctly, or your armor fails.

  27. zel says:

    explain to me how anything out there at all protects a single player game.


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  28. Philippe says:

    I’d just like to point out that I bought the regular boxed version of Fallout 3 on PC, and while it took forever to install, it DOES NOT require the disk to play, and have yet to encounter any problems.  The only additional security is a key code which you have to enter if you want to use the LIVE features.  Otherwise, it doesn’t seem to ‘phone home’.  My dad was able to play my copy at the same time on a different computer.

  29. sheppy says:

    What they say:  Simple disc check, doesn’t install apps, non-intrusive in any way.

    What Spore Ranters say:  This is much better than Spore.  I will gladly accept this foreign object in my keister.

    What many consumers say: I’m having a problem running this software while I have certain apps installed.  Likewise it’s having verification issues with my particular disc drive and what’s this new completely unrelated .dll in my OS?

    What Bethesda Tech Support Says:  That DLL is a myth, like alligators in New York sewers and licking a toad opens the gate to Shangra-La.  Don’t worry about it.  We’re looking into your disc drive issues, oh wait.  You have burning software installed, try removing all that software and get back to the Windows native burning utility to run this game.

    Watching all this, what I say: So let me get this straight…. unintall ~$200 of utility software to run a $50 game on the off chance my disc drive may be one of the few SecuRom likes.  So in other words, cripple the functionality of my $1400 computer to run a $50 game.  Or just say fuck that, buy only PC Games where the developers doesn’t put a "Fuck you, I don’t trust your PC gaming ways" sticker on the package, and get this game for PS3 instead.  SURE, I get the inferior version but Fallout 3 on PS3 won’t refuse to run just because I have Mortal Kombat II on my hard drive.

    A casual observer of my behavior says: So what you’re saying is you WANT to get into PC gaming more but these fucktarded companies just don’t want you money.

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  30. Spartan says:

    BTW: The game was online on some private torrent sites for several days now. DRM removed.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  31. Parallax Abstraction says:

    This SecuROM version is definitely not as draconian as the activation system but it is still far more intrusive than the simple file check they used with Oblivion.  This version of SecuROM has problems with some DVD drives (including my brand new Asus drive which requires the disc to be inserted multiple times before it will pass) and on many systems, it will not let you run the game if you have one of a large number of burning applications installed (like Alcohol, Daemon Tools and in some cases, even Nero), all of which have legitimate uses.  On my system, it didn’t seem to care but a friend of mine couldn’t play the game until he uninstalled all his burning applications.  This is incredibly invasive and once again, punishes legitimate customers while doing nothing to stop pirates (the game was cracked within 24 hours.)  While not as bad as Spore, this is still lousy and plain and simple:  Bethesda lied to the fans by saying they were using the same system as Oblivion.  That product only checked for the presence of a file on the disc and you could literally copy the original DVD and the copy would work without any software aid.  I put a No-CD crack on my EXE to avoid the problems with my DVD drive and everything works perfectly.  In the future, I will not pre-order any new Bethesda product and will wait to hear what they are using first since obviously, they cannot be honest with us.

  32. Spartan says:

    I like Beth and I know a couple of the developers but if SuckROM fucks with my system I will have to get active with trying to organizing an Amazon bomb program again.

    There are a few dozen people on the BW forum in the DRM thread slamming EA to all hell commenting about FO3 using a black list. You care read a very nicely done and shockingly not censored yet thread here:

    The A-bombing is already starting to take off. Check it our here.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  33. DeepThorn says:

    There are tutorials online on how to get rid of it.  You may have to download a program to let you unlock one of the files so you will be able to delete it, but that is the only complication.

    Even though it is minor DRM and not intrusive like Spore, I am not buying it until the price drop happens.

  34. Vake Xeacons says:

     I’d like to believe them, but something tells me some they put in some hidden security (at least they think it’s hidden until it rears it’s ugly head to attack gamers).

    Disk checks are okay. They’re still not going to help piracy any (there’s pirate mods that tell the program the disk’s in the drive), but at least this doesn’t put loyal customers in handcuffs.

  35. koichan says:

    Erm, no…

    The EA bashing was entirely legitimate. Have you not been following the huge EA-DRM backlash at all?

    Anything with limited installs is hugely unfair to paying customers… and the amount on the install-limit only sets *how long* it’ll take for it to screw over paying customers, not *if* it’ll screw paying customers, thats guaranteed.

    All the time, pirates have none of this hassle…

  36. Wolvenmoon says:

    Most of my games with securom end up installed into a vmware virtual machine, cracked, then moved over to my main PC.

    These other games also don’t try to restrict your sale of your game to another person.

  37. Azhrarn says:

    I never said that it was trustworthy, just that I don’t really mind it.
    But arguing that you won’t buy it because the game has a secuROM based disc-check is a moot point since most of your current game collection will have it too. Granted, this one may be nastier than most of those, but it is still less nasty than limited activation nonsense.
    (and big publishers will continue to waste money on it, makes their execs feel important)


  38. Wolvenmoon says:

    The issue is that it isn’t limited to the game’s .exe, but it installs a driver to do the disk check.

    Or, more specifically the issue is that it MIGHT install the driver but there’s no verifiable source of information.

    A disk check limited entirely to the game’s executable and done when the game’s exited or when the game starts playing is perfect.

    "but it’s easy to crack!"

    Well apparently so is the convoluted mess of securom. My suggestion is to do a disk check or an at install online CD-key check using two cd-keys only linked server side that are generated from completely different algorithms (I know, horrible spelling).

    People will still crack it and play it single player, but they have no chance of generating someone else’s keyset.

  39. Azhrarn says:

    SecuROM in its disc-check only format is the most commonly used disc-protection on the planet, most games you own that require the disc to be in the drive will be sporting a version of it. (or one from a different company with similar functionality)
    As a result, if the SecuROM usage is limited to a disc-check only (which btw, also means it doesn’t really install on the HDD, it’s built into the game exe, and goes away when that exe does) then I don’t really have a problem with that.

    It is the persistent, no-disc required online activation with limited install nonsense that you don’t want on your PC and that’s harder to remove than most rootkits.

  40. sqlrob says:

    Given all previous incarnations of protection, it’s up to THEM to prove it. In a legally binding manner.


  41. DarkSaber says:

    It’s also likely you don’t really have any proof about that.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  42. zel says:

    thanks for clearing that up, i never ran into those listings in the games i purchased but it’s good to know.


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  43. Entegy says:

    Steam has been listing third party DRM on games’ store pages for a while now. SecuROM isn’t mentioned, so I think the Steam version uses Steam DRM, which completely acceptable.

  44. zel says:

    I thought i saw an ad for it on steam a few weeks ago, but i don’t recall clearly. I’m sure buying it on steam wouldn’t use securom, steam has its own drm it would be easier for them to just use that. I’ve never had a problem with steam, love the way they do it, you can log in anywhere and access your games 😛 only bad thing is you have to login to authenticate, but thankfully it does have an offline option. I’ma buy it on steam soon as i’m done with like the 4 other games i’m trying to finish.


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  45. Loudspeaker says:

    OOooo good question!  I can’t find any info on that one way or another.  Anyone have the answer?

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  46. Skyler says:

    Does getting it on steam still have SecuROM?

    “When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities” ~ David Hume

  47. vellocet says:

    It requires a driver to be installed to check the disk.

    This is actually a pretty stupid move.  I wasn’t planning on buying Fallout 3 for any system. But I’ve heard good things (it’s mainly a time issue that I’m not buying it).  If I had heard that they had decided to forgo DRM, I would have picked up the game for sure.

    The saddest thing about these companies that put DRM on their games is that they literally PAY for the priviledge of destroying consumer goodwill.  The DRM companies charge a significant amount for use of their technology.

    Those guys at Stardock have it right. The people who pirate your game are going to find a way to do it anyway (with or without DRM) and are in NO WAY "lost sales".  The only thing that comes out of DRM is losing people who would have actually bought your game (there are at least 12 PC games that I wanted to buy but didn’t because of DRM).

  48. sqlrob says:

    SecuROM = treating customer like a pirate.

    It doesn’t matter what parts of if they use, it’s likely a full install.


  49. Zevorick says:

    It’s sad they have to state they won’t be treating their customers like pirates, but good job… I think.

  50. Christian Astrup says:

    I can live with those terms – let that be a lesson to EA. I hereby choose not to spend my hard earned cash on Spore but on Fallout.

  51. JC says:

    Checking at the section on Bethesda, it isn’t a simple disk check, it does install a driver. However, I can’t seem to verify this statement, apart from about 7 customers complaining it doesn’t run because of certain programs they have installed.  So it extremely likely it does install a driver and isn’t like Oblivion, which only had a disk check and not SecuRom.

    Another check at the forums has instructions on doing Clean Boot to stop emulation services from running, so yes there is something installed that conflicts with certain programs.

    I feel sorry for developers, they’d likely get more sales but sometimes their hands are tied because of publisher decisions.

  52. sqlrob says:

    Does it install a driver and/or service? Does it require administrator access?

    If the answer is "yes" to either of these questions, then yes, it is as intrusive as Spore.


  53. cjovalle says:

    I do mind a disk check, since I’ve had problems with SecuROM disk checks. Most recently, for whatever reason it now takes me 3-4 tries to get SecuROM to recognize my legitimately purchased Jade Empire disk. I expect that problem to continue to  get worse, and it’s something I’m certainly paying attention to. That’s an issue. Had I known it would have SecuROM, I wouldn’t have purchased the PC version of Fallout. For my own purchasing habits, SecuROM has driven me to consoles probably more than any other factor- I’m tired of the install errors, having to gather computer information, and the rejection of legally purchased media.

  54. CyberSkull says:

    The only way I’ve heard to reliably remove SecuROM is to reformat your OS partition and re-install Windows.

  55. Alevan says:

    I don’t know… Even with the reassurances, there will be people wanting to do a boycott. I don’t know why they put DRM in there in the first place if a good majority don’t want it there.

    I uninstalled Spore because of DRM, and I don’t know how to get rid of it now. It sucks.

    Amy Levandoski

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