Is it fair for companies to use activation as a copy protection?

With more and more programs needing activation (Half-Life 2, Office 2003, Windows XP etc.), my question is:

Is it fair for companies to use activation as a copy protection?

My personal opinion is yes, as I believe that activation is a result of all other copy protection methods being broken, and so companies have been forced to use it to protect there investment.

However when I got Half-Life 2 it took me nearly 1 hour to get it working, FarCry (a game of similar file size, but with only SafeDisc 3 as the protection) took around 10 minutes to get working. I now also find it cant sell my copy of Half-Life 2 once I completed it.

I think it’s fair to say that activation will really take off in the next few years.

Anyway, what do you think?

  • Ben :slight_smile:

I don’t buy stuffs with product activation…minus WXP.

I vote no.

While it is fine for companies to protect their property, i find it sad that such measures pisses of the honest buying people who do not want or even like to jump through hoops to play/use a certain piece of software.

The way i see it, the more obstacles you put in front of your customers the more they with think “f**k it” and download/buy a easy to use pirate version.

Yes, but with stronger activation pirate version are hard to get, a fully working cracked version of Half-Life 2 came out weeks after the game was launched.

Persoanly no I dont think it is. I spose M$ kinda needs it cos of the shear amound of peple that use it. But for games no! I hate the fact I have to have Steam running (see my sig for a laff) to play HL2/HL2: DM/CS/CS:S. And also when a big game like (like HL2) is first released the company that deal with the activation is gonner be overloaded. It happened with HL2 and Im sure it will happen again.


In the end, these companies will only alienate the “paying” customers. Those with the intention of bypassing the activation will still be able to do so. I vote with my $.

it depends on the product - if it’s just a GAME (45 EUR / 40 $) as HL2 i think this is crap as it does f*cks up someone who just wants to play and have fun with it - and i think that it should be possible to sell a game privately after finishing it without having to pay 10$ to the developer just for their “ok, go and sell it to someone else…” :frowning:

but i also think that an OS, such as WinXP, or any other “productivity software” (such as adobe photoshop) which costs much more money than a game should be free to have an integrated activation. these products are not sold privately that often as games would be - and also the customers who legally purchased it normally like to register “their” software just to get update-news and so on - independant from “where / from whom” they bought it…

I voted no simply because its being used more and more for nonessential programs like games. Activation is also a way to kill the resale market. Think about it, now you can’t trade in your old games for other games at EBgames, FYE, etc. Activation for every software product is a very bad move for the PC game industry as a whole. I’m sure most of you have traded in old PC games to get that hot new title that just came out. By depriving us of that right, they are going to kill their sales in the long run.

Now what happens when a kid can’t afford that new game that he has to have? He will either try to borrow it from a friend and copy it. If he can’t then he’ll start searching the internet and find all of these evil cracks that allow him to play it. If he doesn’t have any friends that want to part with the game for a few days so he can copy it, then he may go straight to emule, donkey, kazaa, or whatever p2p networks are still up. Once people are introduced to these alternative ways of getting games, they may never want to go back to paying that $50 to a retailer again.

This is something that all software companies should think about. When the PC game market goes completely caput and consoles take over the whole market, people will ask why. It’s no secret that the number of PC games being released each year is consistently going down. It seems that the majority of those released are either RTS, MMO, or cheapo adventure games with a few first-person-shooters that have a franchise that has existed on the PC forever (ex. Half life, Unreal Tournament, Quake, Doom, etc.). With the exception of first-person-shooters, these game types don’t play well on consoles. Its only a matter of time before the right controllers are made to correct that.

My point is that the PC game industry is in bad shape and if all companies require activation, it will hurt it even more.

However; I agree with Razor’s point above when it comes to high-ticket productivity software.

Disclaimer: I despise the use of any and all cracks. I even feel emulation of copy protections is a form of a crack. ducks


I was recently at a boot-sale and there wer HL2 copies on sale, and also there sales seems to have slipped, possibly because of the activation.

The ones that did sell were probably parents or kids who did not know about the activation in the first place…
I am against activation in games and widows operating sustems and will never buy any…
I got a free copy of HL2 with an ATI graphics card and gave it away even though it was the downloadable version…

I wouldn never put steam in the “product activation” category, thats a whole seperate controlling beast, steam was meant to control the user and the way the user interacts with the products it supports. Product activation is What XP does, it doesn’t “validate” everytime you sign on, so you cannot lump steam and product activation together.

Now as far as product activation, I prefer this over safedisc or securom, or any other type of protection, at least it wouldn’t infringe upon my right to make my archival copy.

Who cares if you have to enter a product ID and possible take 5 minutes extra to call if needed, I prefer this, at least with product activation I haven’t had a hardware compatability issue.

I think it’s good for companies to have product activation, however, I don’t think that they should have to install a seperate activation program (i.e. halflife) in order for the game to run, think of how much more CPU you could have without steam…

also, it would be cool if companies had a button where you could ‘unregister’ the cd-key on your game so you could sell it…


I’ll do anything to bypass them (but I’m not mentioning that here :wink: ).

Really? Wow that a bit extreme. But hey what ever floats your boat :stuck_out_tongue:



I had no problem with the Windows XP/Office 2003 activation, as it took around 30 seconds on the internet, and the phone service was automated and efficient (took around 10 minutes), it was the Half-Life 2 activation that annoyed me.

Ben :slight_smile:

Personally i voted yes. Not that I like the activation process, i think it’s a bitch, but software companies should have a right to protect their software from piracy.

I want to put software companies on notice that I will personally will NOT BUY any software that requires me to have to activate it on line or over the phone in order to use. If I want to register the software it is my decision and mine alone. Most companies sell their customer lists to help offset the cost of maintaing same. Niet, Nien, No

I think everybody is missing the point slightly!

Think about the Question - WHY ARE THEY MAKING ME ACTIVATE - what’s the hidden agenda?

Well quite simply - they want to ensure you are locked in, if you spent an hour activating your product, you aint gonna give it up so easily.

The whole idea of ‘STEAM POWERED’ is to deliver ‘CONTENT’ to you - I know this has been free in the past - but for how long?

These companies are itching to exploit the PayPerPlay idea, you sign-up, and pay for each session of the game - think how much that will cost?

I know you might think I am scaremongering - but trust me - STEAM will be the catalyst for on-demand pay as you play games… The world is definately hooked on trying to squeeze every last cent/pence out of the consumer! I find it ridiculous!

I agree with people’s posts - this kind of guerilla WarFare - WILL lead people to breaking the system, not for personal profit, just to play it for free like the good old days…

I think STEAM are carefully analysing the current user base and plotting when it will be most profitable to start their campaign - I would imagine they are going to let the ‘hubbub’ die down over activation first.

Why else would they try and make it difficult to un-register - $10 is indeed scandalous - its your STEAM account - why can’t you just tick a box to say UNASSIGN KEY??? - I mean, you CAN BLOODY ORDER GAMES from it???

Sorry for the long rant - just think we are the guinea pigs for something big and nasty lurking round the corner :frowning:

I used to love Computer Games, they let me escape from reality - now all those games I loved and played - seem to be happening in real life… very soon I’ll be paying to use my own toilet paper! BILLING has gone crazy!

MC :smiley:

well, your’re just talking about steam - but as already mentioned above, there are several other ways of “activating” a software and binding it to A SINGLE PC (such as WinXP / Office 2k3 do)…
and STEAM is more than “just acitvation” - that’s why they (the developers) call it a steam-PLATFORM…
but the standard-winxp-activation itself is far away from what steam does to it’s customers…