Game Publishers: If Your DRM, Anti-Cheat Software Does Creepy Installs, Warn Your Customers First

Any cursory review of our stories involving DRM will leave a sane reader with only one impression: the spectrum of customer viewpoints on video game DRM ranges from total and complete disgust and hatred to tolerance of DRM as an annoyance. In other words, there is no positive side of this spectrum. There are no gamers that are pro-DRM, only those that put up with it. On the flip side, there are many folks who not only hate DRM in video games, but also many who are quite wary of what that DRM is and is doing on or to their machines. There are historical reasons for this, from DRM support falling off and bricking previously bought games to DRM practices that appear to install shady shit on gamers' PCs.

In these modern times, it would be absurd to suggest that the general public has mostly graduated to a new level of technical proficiency... but I think we can also say that the average gamer is probably more aware of how these games operate and install on their machines than they have been in the past. Which is probably why, in 2021, it was a really bad idea for one game publisher to use anti-piracy measures that install what sure looks like unknown, shady software on customer machines.

Fans of the RPG Another Eden—out this month on PC—this week discovered that, alongside installing the game itself, copies of the game obtained on Steam were also installing something called ‘wfsdrv’ which seemingly had nothing to do with the game.

Initially believed to be some kind of driver, then suggested as something more sinister, fans scrambled to try to discover just what was nestling itself into their system32 folders, and could have been...literally anything.

Finding a game randomly installing something unexpected obviously throws up all kinds of red flags. Then, when you go looking for any information on this mysterious software and come up with nothing, it's likely to send your concern into overdrive. People on Steam and social media went nuts trying to figure out what this software is and why it was being installed on their machines.

As you've probably already guessed, it turns out it's a DRM/anti-cheat software. Another Eden developers eventually jumped into the Steam forums to try to calm everyone down.

We have been recently made aware about concerns users are having with the “wfsdrv” program that is installed along with the Steam version of Another Eden.

We take information privacy seriously at WFS and would like to alleviate any fears our users might have about the security of the recently released Steam version of Another Eden. The program in wfsdrv is an anti-cheat kernel driver, and is installed to protect the integrity of the Another Eden experience so that all players are able to operate in a fair play-environment.

This just isn't good enough. We'll leave aside for a moment that DRM and anti-cheat software is largely trash. Instead, it seems like a decent proposition that in 2021 you should give your customers a heads-up if you're going to be installing stuff on their machines that doesn't appear to be part of the game they bought. Something on the Steam page, or in the release notes. Maybe an FAQ that names the software by name so that anyone searching for information on it can see it.

Anything other than simply dropping it onto customer PCs without telling anyone and then trying to manage the fallout afterwards. Or, hey, maybe don't use this software that probably doesn't work anyway.

 

With thanks to our Friends over at : Techdirt.

 

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