Old PC games rendered unplayable thanks to Windows update

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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.

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