Fallout: New Vegas to Utilize Steamworks DRM


Digital Rights Management is one of the most hotly debated topics in gaming, and has been for some time. Many games, like Spore, suffered at retail due to the DRM they chose to include in their retail releases. All of this means that publishers and developers are have to walk the line between being protecting their content and inconveniencing their customers.

Bethesda has just announced their plans for DRM on Fallout: New Vegas. Instead of SecuROM or some of the other disc-based schemes, they’ve decided on Steamworks. So what does that mean to the end user?

Well, first off, you’ll have to install Steam to be able to play, and you’ll have to be online when you initially install the game. But is that really a bad thing? Are there really a mass of gamers out there somewhere who don’t already have Steam installed? So, what else comes along with Steamworks?

On the plus side, outside of the Steam requirement, the DRM is pretty much non-existent. There are no restrictions on the number of systems you install the game on, and there’s no requirement to be online after the initial install. Hell, you don’t even have to use the DVD that comes with the game, just the key code. Punch it into Steam, download the game, and take off.

The best news of all is that use of Steam will have no effect on the Fallout mod community at all. Community manager Nick Breckon confirmed this on the game’s official forums, saying, “For those concerned, this will have no affect on mod development whatsoever. Modders will still be able to create and distribute their plugins the same way they have in the past.” It’s nice to see a developer supporting the mod community, especially with the decided lack of mod support in some other recent titles.

To be honest, I’d like to see more games going this route. Sure, it would be nice to have games that are completely DRM-free, but that isn’t a realistic goal. At least with Steamworks you can install the game multiple times, download a new copy of the game if you happen to lose your DVD, and not have to worry about rootkits watching you all the time.

We’ll be seeing New Vegas at E3 next week, and you should see it in stores later this fall (or on Steam).

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2 Comments on Fallout: New Vegas to Utilize Steamworks DRM

Shawn Sines

On June 9, 2010 at 10:37 am

Didn’t Bethesda use GFW as DRM on Fallout 3? Big improvement if you ask me.


On July 3, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I never used the GFW functionality with my retail copy of Fallout 3 and could play/save games just fine without a GFW account. Only protection on Fallout 3 was a disk check on the game launcher (which could easily be bypassed by directly running the Fallout3.exe executable).

So looks like Bethesda is actually going with a more restrictive DRM scheme with New Vegas than what was included on Fallout 3. Sounds like most people are willing to overlook that for the extra convenience that the Steam platform has, but can’t say I’m happy about this decision to force Steam activation on those who don’t want it.