TRON: Evolution is yet another cautionary tale for DRM

Tron Evolution featured image

The Problem

In another application of a lesson that to be fully learned, TRON: Evolution’s SecuROM DRM activation servers have been shut down according to a Reddit user, rendering a game that is barely a decade old unplayable if you hadn’t installed and activated it prior. While the game has been merely delisted from Steam a couple of months ago, it remained installable perfectly up until this point.

According to the website Delisted Games, many have contacted SecuROM support staff and Disney’s, the former confirming they can’t run the activation servers for Disney games. Disney, on the other hand, said they would investigate this “hiccup” and patch it in the future with no estimated time for the patch’s release.

“So, a bit of a rant. I often buy games on sales, but don’t play them immediately. Yesterday I decided to play TRON: Evolution, maybe even practice speedrunning it, so I install the game, try to activate it (game still uses SecuROM DRM) and… the serial key has expired (?!)

After a bit of googling, I found this thread and it seems more users are affected. In reality, everyone who owns the game, but doesn’t have it installed (and launched at least once) right now can’t play the game (probably) ever again.”

Reddit thread’s OP

My Opinion

It doesn’t seem farfetched to infer that TRON: Evolution won’t be patched any time soon, if ever. The most interesting part is that the game does have a single-player story mode which would have worked fine were it not for the DRM. In fact, pirate copies include executables that bypass the activation check and run the game at the same time the purchased copy can’t be normally played.

I find it hard to believe that, say, an MS-DOS game from 1992 is perfectly playable (and in even better shape than before thanks to source ports!) while a late 2010 release is no longer working except under very specific circumstances. Not because of a lack of future-proofing the game for later operating systems or hardware for instance, but because a DRM scheme that needs to stay up is no longer operational.

Tron Evolution media image

Ironically, SecuROM’s fighting against piracy of TRON: Evolution has ended with the pirate copy of the game being the only version out there to work under all circumstances. On the other hand, the legit game must have been installed and already activated prior to this incident to be playable, severely shrinking the pool of playable legal copies.

Cases like this one are why I’m cautious when buying games in general and try to buy from GOG as much as possible, where I know the games sold don’t include DRM. There’s no guarantee that the game will work in the next few years, not because of constantly changing hardware or terrible coding, but because the publisher intentionally included an activation scheme that later broke down.

You can learn more about Delisted Games here, the website dedicated to documenting all games that are no longer available for sale!

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