Home > Uncategorized > Dear Bethesda: This is why people pirate games on PC

Dear Bethesda: This is why people pirate games on PC

February 4th, 2010 Andrew Martens

This Christmas, I decided to pick up a copy of Fallout 3 for PC, their recently-released ‘Game of the Year’ edition, which included all of the downloadable content (DLC).  You would think that installing a game off of DVD onto the computer should be a simple matter.  Somehow, Bethesda managed to make it anything but…

Opened the packaging, put DVD disc 1 into my drive.  For some reason, my computer refused to read it.  The drive light just blinked slowly without actually reading the disk.  To verify drive operation, I put in another DVD which spun up normally, and Windows Explorer read it happily.  I tried disc 2, which also loaded fine in Windows Explorer.  My hypothesis is Securom, which has caused many headaches for people.  Several of the other games I have on my computer do use Securom protection, so perhaps the already-installed Securom driver was interfering with reading of the DVD.

Whatever, maybe I can install this anyways.  I put disc 1 into my wife’s laptop.  Of course, it worked just fine over there.  I shared her drive across the network and went back to my PC.  From there, I was able to run the installer and suffered through the pain of installing it from a shared drive over wifi.  But hey – at least I had it installed!  Time to install the DLC now, since at least I knew that DVD worked.

Tried to run the installer off the disc, at which point it seemed to be loading but never brought up the application.  Waited a few minutes, nothing.  Tried rerunning it, still nothing.  Went to check online, and it seemed that most people recommended copying the contents of the DVD to the HD first before installing – and even then it took a while.  Fine, I copied them and went to install.  After waiting a minute or two, finally it seemed to be running.

Aaaaand another snag.  It complained that it couldn’t install without being an Administrator, but it didn’t actually bring up the UAC prompt.  Tried to right-click and run as Admin, and it still didn’t work?  More Googling seemed to indicate that I actually had to disable UAC.  FINE.  I disabled it, rebooted, and tried to install.  Still the same message, you have to be Administrator.  Oh yeah – right-clicked, Run As Administrator… and it still didn’t work.  WTF?  This was rapidly becoming frustrating.  I switched users to the actual Admin user, and then went to install the DLC.  Finally it actually worked.  Now I just had to patch the game, and it was go time!

Installing the patch went really well, up until it gave me a failure message.  Searching for the source of it, it turned out that I needed to have Windows Live 3.0 installed.  Yes, I needed to install MicroSoft’s web-enabled achivements/whatever thing – and the patcher couldn’t do that itself.  What kind of crappy patch is this?  Every other patcher I have used that requires some other MS-specific framework (.NET for example) automatically can download and install it.  At any rate I went and downloaded and installed Live 3.0 myself, even though I didn’t care about any of its capabilities.

Okay, now I’m getting excited.  It’s only taken me a few hours, but the game and DLC are installed and patched.  Time to run it!

BZZZZZT.  Oh right, that whole DVD issue that I had in the first place.  Due to their buggy copy-protection with Securom, the disc wasn’t readable by my computer, and of course it needed local-system access to the DVD.  Having it mounted across the network was insufficient.  At least that was logical – but that doesn’t help me actually play the game that I bought!  I wasn’t about to go out and spend another $30 on a new DVD drive for my PC when the existing one works fine with everything else I have ever thrown at it.

Screw you Bethesda, the gloves were coming off at this point.  Three hours to install a game was already ridiculous, but requiring another $30 purchase to make it work was out of the question.  A quick trip to a copy-protection-removal site, a simple download later, and I had a replacement EXE.  Did a virus/trojan/malware scan, everything checked out OK.  Replaced the original EXE file, and tried to fire up the game.  It works!

A month later and I have had a lot of quality gaming time with Fallout 3.  Sure there were some small glitches and bugs, and a few crashes.  Overall, however, the game itself was indeed a winner, and was well worth the money I spent.  If you add up the time I spent fighting to install it, it’s a minimal amount of overhead.  But you would think that it should be possible to come home, install a game from a DVD, and play it within at least an hour, if not substantially less.  To have to troubleshoot issues with not only the installation of the game, but also the DLC and even the patch?!?

This is why people pirate games on PC.  Had I simply gone to a torrent site, I could have downloaded a pre-cracked and pre-patched version of the game without any difficulty.  Bethesda, next time please don’t penalize the honest gamers in your vainglorious quest to stamp out piracy.  You’ll never be able to kill off piracy, and your efforts only serve to drive away paying customers.

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  1. scrub
    February 4th, 2010 at 20:06 | #1

    Use steam.

  2. February 5th, 2010 at 04:01 | #2


    Honestly, I had a lot of problems getting Titan Quest running via Steam recently, so using Steam isn’t a panacea. PC gaming really is too much of a pain in the butt most of the time. Console gaming has inherited some of its problems, as the consoles become more complex, but at least it’s still mostly an, “Insert game, press play,” type of experience. I imagine they’d work harder to fix PC gaming if it weren’t already such a niche — console gaming outsells it by a massive margin. Still, the shenanigans in the name of copy protection are ridiculous.

  3. February 5th, 2010 at 10:19 | #3

    I was tempted to try out Steam, but foolishly thought that there was some value in having a nice dead-tree manual and physical copy of the game.

    As a result of this, I’m starting to feel that the only companies who ‘get’ gaming on the PC are those selling MMOs because they have to push frequent updates to their user base.

  4. February 5th, 2010 at 22:40 | #4

    *So* glad I switched to console gaming. Sure, the 360 has its flaws (and its yearly subscription fee for multiplayer, and the rather outrageous price for videogames in general), but I haven’t encountered a situation so messed up as the one you describe.

    I did use steam for a while on PC, and I played EVE Online for a bit (in fact, I think we met up in game for a while, IIRC), but once I got my console … I just lost interest altogether in PC gaming. Most of that had to do with the never-ending string of upgrades required to keep hardware relevant to the current batch of games :)

    (heh, amusingly, my reCaptcha for this post is “quoted so”.)

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