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I’m frustrated,annoyed,disappointed

A complaint about Civilization IV's CopyProtection.

I recently sent the following email to 2kgames's customer service (usa@take2support.com):

I have not yet received a response, and I figured that trying all channels might be a good thing. I apologize that it is longer than one or two paragraphs.

To whom it may concern:

Let me start by saying that, while I realize this message may go unread,
ignored, or discarded, I feel it important to write this. I apologize for
the great length of it, but I truly hope to get a (non-automated) response.

I am not the sort of person who typically writes emails of complaint,
protests business, or in general, does the sort of thing I am about to do.
That said, I would like to register my severe displeasure with the copy
protection used on the game "Civilization IV", which is published by your
company.

I have been a Civ player for over a decade now. My father introduced me to
"Sid Meiers Civilization II" when I was young, and I have been playing ever
since. I purchased "Civilization IV" almost upon launch. In fact, I had an
early enough copy to receive the misprinted disc, where Disc 2 of the game
was labeled 'play disc', instead of Disc 1. Before the first patch came out,
it was difficult to play the game on my laptop at the time, as it was only
barely above minimum specifications. In spite of that, I greatly enjoyed the
game.

One thing did bother me, though. Once, after exiting the game, my Windows
process explorer listed a mysterious process, with a name made of seemingly
random letters. Panicked, and thinking I had a virus of some sort, I
performed a full-system virus scan, and adware scan, returning nothing.
Mystified, downloaded a more powerful explorer (Sysinternals 'Process
explorer'), which attached the company 'Macrovision, inc.' to the process.
After some internet searching and tests, I discovered that this process was
in fact related and launched by Civilization IV.

I consulted the manual, the website, and the back of the box, and nowhere
could I find a mention of any Macrovision product being included in the
game. While the loading screen for the game has logos for a dozen different
engines and licensed code, Macrovision's emblem is not to be seen.
While a bit perturbed by this unwelcome and unannounced addition, I had no
other problems, so I continued to enjoy the game.

Here, the story fast forwards a couple years. I have a shiny new laptop, the
Lenovo x60 tablet. The older laptop was no longer used, and had already been
completely wiped. One day, with some free time, I came across my
Civilization IV discs. Since it wasn't installed on any other computer, and
I remembered how much I enjoyed it before, I looked forward to trying it on
a newer, more powerful computer, with the newer patches that were sure to be
out.

However, after installing it, even with the disc in the drive, Civilization
IV would refuse to start, indicating that the CD was not, in fact, at the
time. At the time, I was unsure as to why this might be the case. Later
research led me to a possible theory, as follows:

In an effort to make a portable and lightweight laptop, the IBM Lenovo x60
tablet does not actually have an internal disc drive. The only available
drive is in the docking station. To provide CD functionality when away from
the dock, the IBM Lenovo x60 tablet comes with a legal, pre-installed
software, InterVideo VirtualDrive. This software is not meant or sold for
purpouses of piracy or copyright infringement, but was bundled with my
computer to allow me to have a lighter weight and a longer battery life
while on-the-go.

While I have not confirmed this theory, I find it entirely possible that
this software is one of the many blacklisted by Macrovision SafeDisc
technology. Whether or not this was true, I found myself in the case where I
was unable to play a game I had legally purchased, on a computer that met
all the stated minimum specifications, and had no illegal or ethically
questionable software installed.

I was disappointed at this turn of events, as I was unable to play one of my
favorite games, Civilization IV. At the time, I eventually gave up. About a
year later, at school, I made friends with another big fan of the
Civilization series games. Recently, he recommended I purchase the available
expansions ("Warlords" and "Beyond The Sword"), and join him online for
multiplayer fun. This sounded like a great idea to me. I started looking for
where my discs had gone, and while thinking of where I might have lost them,
I remembered all the trouble I had attempting to install it before. Another
friend of mine has pointed out that I could get a "no-disk patch" for the
game.

Personally, I am opposed to such hacks. Additionally, I worry that searching
for and installing such a patch might give me a virus of some sort. At the
same time, however, I am at a loss as to how I can play my own legally
purchased game on my own legally purchased computer, without the use of
possibly illegal hacks and patches. As I have been considering the issue in
my mind over the past few days, I have found myself increasingly annoyed at
the sheer absurdity and avoidability of the situation. Additionally, I am
saddened by the lack of trust, both in the assumption that I as a consumer
would attempt to pirate the game, leading to the inclusion of the 'SafeDisc'
technology, and by the lack of trust that is expressed by not even
advertising the used of this technology, so I could make an informed
decision *before* purchasing and attempting the install the game.

I understand and appreciate the business prerogative to use 'Macrovision
SafeDisc' technology. I am aware piracy and copyright theft are huge
problems plaguing the industry today. That said, however, this technology
was slipped into the product without my prior knowledge, and it renders me
unable to use said product, despite being a legal purchaser of it.

At this point, I cannot install "Civilization IV" on my computer. As of
such, I have no reason to purchase the expansions available for it.
Additionally, I am disappointed that I cannot play multiplayer with my
friend.

I realize that I am only one customer of millions, and the loss of my
business would not affect Take-2 in any appreciable way. I realize, given
the nature of modern customer service, that even if this message is read by
a real person, it is likely to be ignored, or responded to with a
'fill-in-the-blanks' style response. I realize that even if responded to
personally, I am unlikely to get any solution to the basic problem, or a
real addressing of the problem at hand. Even so, I can only hope for the
best.

If, perhaps, there is a more appropriate department or contact person for
this issue, please please let me know.

My most sincere regards,
[]
Reply
  • Boy, you have said a lot here, and I agree with you on so many of these details. I've had similar problems with Mac games I've purchased and loved so much that I kept going back to them -- until their copy protection wouldn't let me. I have even called support numbers (different companies than 2K) and have had the customer service reps not believe I owned a game, even though I had the disc right there in my hand. I wouldn't mind jumping through a simple hoop, or paying a very nominal fee, to get an upgraded copy of my favorite games. I'm going to contact the company and see if we can't get a response for you.

    Thanks for taking time to post this very considered and thoughtful topic. Really great.
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  • Hi,

    Perhaps this is a bit late but I hope you're still receiving this message.

    I just noticed that, with the most recent patch for Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword, the presence of the dvd is no longer checked. I did not test the vanilla version, but at least this is some good news. Perhaps Take2 decided it won't matter much anymore with Civ5 being out nowadays.
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