Skip to main content

Old PC games rendered unplayable thanks to Windows update

best processors for gaming
Dejan Stanic Micko/Shutterstock
In the age of the digital download, DRM is a hot-button issue for video game players. The concept of ownership was cut-and-dried in the days of physical media, but there’s far more room for debate now that digital distribution services like Steam make up such a large proportion of the wider marketplace.

And while the concept of DRM is nothing new, it’s the age of the practice that might lead to some older games becoming unplayable — thanks to a new update Microsoft has released for systems running running Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

The update brings these versions in line with Windows 10 by disabling support for the SafeDisc and SecuROM DRM protocols, which were in widespread use when video games were largely distributed on CD and DVD. This might render some older games unplayable, according to a report from Hexus.

One of the biggest arguments against digital downloads from a consumer perspective is the threat of games being de-listed or otherwise made unavailable after the time of purchase. A situation like this one demonstrates that even physical media can be rendered unusable by a change in DRM policies years after a game was purchased.

Microsoft does offer a workaround, but the company stresses that there are risks associated with the procedure. Using a command line prompt, you can disable the driver — but there’s a warning that this might leave your system open to attack by malicious users.

Beyond that, it’s perhaps best to simply re-purchase the desired game via a digital distribution service without DRM, such as GOG. It’s understandable why developers choose to employ DRM to protect their work, but news like this only serves as a reminder that proper care has to be taken to ensure that it’s implemented well.

Editors' Recommendations

Brad Jones
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
You’re going to hate the latest change to Windows 11
A laptop running Windows 11.

Just two weeks after rolling out a preview build to Windows Insiders, Microsoft is pushing out an update to Windows 11 that adds advertisements to the Start menu. Build KB5036980, which is now slowly rolling out to the wider Windows 11 user base, includes recommendations in the Start menu, and they sneakily sit beside your real apps.

These apps comes exclusively from the Microsoft store, and they sit in the Recommended section of the Start menu. This section includes recently used, frequent, and new apps, but one (or more) slots will now be dedicated to an ad. As the update reads: "The Recommended section of the Start menu will show some Microsoft Store apps. These apps come from a small set of curated developers. This will help you to discover some of the great apps that are available."

Read more
The most common Windows 11 problems and how to fix them
Person using Windows 11 laptop on their lap by the window.

With Windows 10 officially losing support next year, Windows 11 is poised to take over as the dominant operating system. Many users have already switched over to the latest Microsoft OS – and while it's not perfect, most are finding it to be a nice step forward from Windows 10. Of course, there are a few quirks people will have to get used to, but most of the bugs and technical issues have already been ironed out.

That's not to say Windows 11 is perfect. In fact, there are still a handful of common Windows 11 problems that people are encountering, including ones that cause no sound to play, network connections to be laggy, and games to run at less-than-optimal speeds. Thankfully, many of these issues are easy to resolve without extensive troubleshooting or the need to contact customer support.

Read more
Windows 11 tips and tricks: 8 hidden settings you need to try
Windows 11 on a tablet.

Windows 11 has been around for quite a while now. The operating system isn't as new as when it first came out in 2021, but many people are still updating it for the first time from Windows 10. Yet whether you're new to Windows 11 or have been using it since launch, there are a few things that you still might want to tweak to get a better experience. Microsoft doesn't have all these settings upfront, but we're here to surface them for you.
Move the Taskbar and Start Menu to the left

One of the biggest differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11 is the location of the Taskbar and Start Menu. On Windows 10, the Taskbar and Start Menu are positioned to the left of the screen. Windows 11, though, changes that by moving both to the center. If this annoys you, then you can easily change it back.

Read more